At one point, the Church of Yeo (copyright Ms. C) was holding services on the hour. The fans had bought in, the players had bought in, and the hockey world was starting to buy in. Unfortunately, things went south, the bandwagon fans jumped ship and the blame game started.
Why didn't Yeo do something? Why was Yeo not punishing the players mercilessly, Herb Brooks style? Why, dear hockey gods, was Mike Yeo still employed? Such an embarrassment to the franchise and their fans. Fire them all, bring in another coach, someone who get get some results.
Right? This was was the thinking. We asked what you would do different if you were Yeo. No one had an answer. Yet that didn't stop people from continuing to blame the coach. It's easy to place the blame on the coach. Hell, it's his job to take the heat. Yet, no one who wanted him fired knew who would do a better job, or what that better job would look like. But hey, fire him anyway, right?
Bloodlust is a dangerous condition, folks.
How did Yeo do, according to those who saw the replay? Let's take a look.
Nathan- First place in the NHL in December = A+. Bottom five in the NHL at the end of the season = F. Injury issues and lack of talent bring the grade up. You can't judge him based upon the talent, but rather what he can get that talent to do. He actually did a pretty decent getting the NHLers to buy into his system and get a bunch of AHLers to try to fix the collapse, but nobody could do that.
Bryan- Sit in a room with Mike Yeo for ten minutes. You'll leave ready to bust through a brick wall, for no other reason than to say you did it. His coaching style may not fly with some (looking at you Marek Zidlicky), but it does work on the kids and the veteran leadership. Conveniently, those are the two groups that will make up the roster on this team for the next few years.
This year's team gave up. You can't motivate people who don't care. You can punish them all you want, but it won't make any difference. Those who don't want to be part of something aren't going to give more than they absolutely have to. And you know what? Screw 'em. The door is over there, and life will go on without them.
Couple the handful of guys who didn't give a shit, and add in the players who cared desperately, but just don't have the talent to make a difference in the NHL, and Yep was handed a big bowl of shit soup and told to make it edible. The team collapsed, and yet Yeo is not to blame. The guys wearing the sweaters need to own that particular honor.
Jesse- I had to think long and hard about this one. Yes, I do like the sense of poise and hockey IQ that Yeo has brought. Bob Mason is still completely underrated. The coaches seem to have more definitive answers instead of blank looks.
However, the season was really bad. There were times when Yeo looked like his team had totally checked out. Some of that has to fall on the coach and his staff. Not all, but some. While the players are the ones playing, the coaches do need to make sure their heads are in the game. I'm not sure that was always happening.
Also, the PP and the scheme were awful. There were concerns about Yeo's powerplay from his days in Pittsburgh, when the Crosby and Malkin Penguins had a medicore popwerplay. Without those two superstars, the Wild were total duds on the man advantage.
Once again, some of that has to fall on the coach. In particular, I really dislike Heatley playing in front of the net on the PP instead of on the weakside wing, waiting for a one-timer.
While I do believe that Yeo and his staff are better than Richards, this isn't a question of relative coaching.
Grade - C
JS- Yeo is at least infinity times better than Richards was, if only for his post-game interviews. He knows the game well, has a great system that works when his players play within it and says what needs to be said. He never became hopeless or speechless and he stayed strong even when things didn't go so well. That's not to say he was all rainbows and sunshine all the time, but that's actually a good thing. A coach with balls. I like balls. (Bonus points if you get the reference...because well...I don't really like balls...).
Again, he can't be blamed for the team's massive injuries. I thought he handled things alright given the circumstances. That many injuries would throw off the best of coaches. The two main things I liked about Yeo's coaching is the way he distributed ice-time among the d-men and how great he was with the Aeros alums. He trusted the players worthy of his trust. I'm curious to see how he'll handle Granlund, Coyle, Phillips and the like. I think Yeo's stay with the Wild will be a long one.