Mike Yeo fired as Wild head coach after 8th straight loss
Minnesota has posted 1-7-2 record over last 10 games
The Minnesota Wild fired coach Mike Yeo and named John Torchetti the interim replacement, following their eighth straight loss on Saturday.
Owner Craig Leipold confirmed the decision in an email to The Associated Press, after Yeo told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis he'd been let go.
The Wild lost 4-2 at home to Boston Bruins to match the franchise's longest home winless streak at eight. They've lost 13 of their last 14 games overall while plummeting toward the bottom of the Western Conference.
General manager Chuck Fletcher said recently that Yeo's job was safe.
"I knew what he said the other day, and I'm a realist," Yeo said after the loss that dropped the Wild to 3-12-4 in their last 19 games — the NHL's worst record in 2016. "You can't lose every game and expect to think that there's not going to be changes."
Leipold declined to comment further. There was no immediate word from the Wild about who would take over and whether there would be further dismissals from the staff, which includes assistants Rick Wilson, Darryl Sydor, Darby Hendrickson and Andrew Brunette. Bob Mason is the goaltending coach.
The 42-year-old Yeo was 173-132-44 in five seasons with the Wild, just the third coach they've had since entering the NHL as an expansion team in 2000. Yeo was 11-17 in the playoffs, taking the team to the Western Conference semifinals each of the last two years. The Wild have been eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks each of the last two seasons.
After signing stars Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to 13-year, $98 million contracts four years ago, though, simply making the second round wasn't going to be good enough for long. Leipold, Fletcher and the rest of the organization had much-higher expectations for a team that has fallen to 0-5-3 in the last eight home games for the longest winless stretch at Xcel Energy Center since 2001.
Yeo's status became tenuous last season, too, when a 2-8-4 stretch into mid-January prompted a trade for goalie Devan Dubnyk. The team's struggles were more specific then, and Dubnyk was an immediate remedy. They went 26-8-2 the rest of the way to surge into the playoffs.
The most troubling part of this slump, though, was the variety of problems. Well-paid forwards like Mikael Granlund, Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek have not produced enough scoring. But the Wild have allowed at least four goals in seven of their last eight games.
"I believe in the group, but they better start believing in each other, and they better start delivering," Yeo said after the game Saturday.