ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - Monday was a bittersweet day for Minnesota Wild General Manager Bill Guerin.
The Wild is on a seven-game winless streak. They have just two points over that stretch. The team is off to a 5-10-4 start, and their confidence, their swagger is nowhere to be found. Since you can’t trade an entire roster, something had to change.
That ended up being the head coach. Guerin fired Dean Evason after four-plus seasons with the Wild.
"The coaches can’t go out and execute for the players who play, but I didn’t feel like it was going to come back. What I was seeing, I think it had just gotten to that point where almost no matter what they did, the guys were having a hard time executing and generating offense," Guerin said. "Something had to change, you can’t trade 23 players. I just had that feeling that it wasn’t going to come back."
Evason was in his fifth season with the Wild and had 147 wins. He led Minnesota to three Stanley Cup Playoff appearances, but they were all first round exits. Guerin clearly had a plan, as shortly after the move, John Hynes was announced as Evason’s replacement.
Hynes was in Nashville with his family when he got the call. He had been the coach for the Predators the past four seasons, but was fired back in May after they failed to make the playoffs. Hynes won 234 games in Nashville.
"When you have an opportunity to coach in the National Hockey League, there’s only 32 jobs in the world and you take great pride and honor in having these opportunities," Hynes said Tuesday morning. "When you look at the roster, you look at the quality of players, it’s real exciting. When you look at the dynamic of the team, it’s a group you can win with."
The problem right now is the Wild isn’t getting enough out of its best players. Kirill Kaprizov has just six goals in 19 games. Guerin says he hasn’t seen the same smile and personality out of his star forward that he’s had in the past. That’s what happens when you’re losing.
Matt Boldy has just one goal and seven assists in 12 games. He dealt with an upper body injury earlier this season and hasn’t had the start that he wanted.
"Matt is struggling, and it’s hard. This is a 22-year-old kid, and we’re asking a lot out of him. He knows he’s struggling more than anybody else. This is weighing on him like a ton of bricks, and it’s our job to help him get out of it," Guerin said.
The Wild’s assistant coaches led the team’s morning skate on Tuesday as they host the St. Louis Blues. Hynes will spend the day connecting with his players, many of whom spent Monday taking accountability for the coaching change.
Hynes said it will be a collective effort to climb out of the early rut.
"Right now they’re in the foxhole, they’re trying to dig their way out and I’m going to get in, jump in with them, with the rest of the coaches and we’re going to fight our way out of it," Hynes said.
Guerin did make it clear that Hynes is not a rental for the rest of this season.
"He's going to be here longer than that. This is not a one-year thing," Guerin.