Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports
The Wild are starting to stabilize from their slow early start. Is this enough to give Yeo some breathing room?
What a difference a week makes.
Heck, even a day.
Last Wednesday I wrote this for the Wilderness Walk:
With Peter Laviolette fired for an 0-3 start, you have to start wondering at what point the Wild are going to start looking at making a coaching change with Mike Yeo? I hope it's not soon, as I don't think that you can really point to him for these losses.... But when you're a coach on the hot seat, the only progress most people care about is in the "W" department, and that's what the Wild are short on right now. My guess is that he makes it to Thursday's game against the Jets, but the Wild have to step it up, and quick, if they want to see their head coach retain his job.
Since then, the Wild has done their part, rattling off three straight wins, and continuing (with the exception of the Buffalo game) to be dominant in terms of having and shooting the puck. Coming into yesterday, the Wild looked to be solidly on track, and all talk about Yeo quieted down.
And then, last night happened. It was a hellacious game to follow, seeing the Wild do so many of the things that are supposed to lead to success in a hockey game while being undone by the same shortcomings we saw in the other three losses.
Looking at the playoff positioning can also be a source of early-season panicking. The Wild have 8 points, and though I don't know who exactly gets in under this new system, it won't be the Wild. While it's kinda early to play the playoff odds game, The Western Conference is pretty deep with good teams, and being on the outside-looking-in when almost every team competing with you has a game or two in hand on you, it's not an ideal start.
I haven't really gotten a handle on what the Wild fanbase is saying about Yeo, but my guess would be that no one's mind has been changed. If you think Yeo should be fired after tonight, you probably thought so last night, even if you didn't feel like it was a pressing matter after the win. You just probably have something to point to now.
But I'm not so interested in whether Yeo should be fired or not, but this: What's it going to take for the chatter on Yeo's job security to cease?
And for the record, I'm not talking about random fans. There are probably Chicago Blackhawk fans who think they should boot out Joel Quenneville when they lose. I'm talking about national media surveying the NHL landscape looking for who might be next on the firing line.
Is it when it becomes obvious that the Wild will make the playoffs this season? The Wild have slightly loftier expectations on them than "make the playoffs", but after missing after a hot start in 11-12, and then barely sneaking into the playoffs in '13, having a team that looks like a playoff lock in January may be enough to take the pressure off of Yeo until the playoffs roll around.
Or will it take a playoff series win? Especially locally, people are looking for the Wild to take the next step, which usually means a playoff win. It's also possible that Yeo won't get a pass in January if his team is appearing to be a lock for the playoffs, given the fact that the Wild have faded in the last two years. I don't think anyone is expecting this Wild team to make a true Cup run, barring true breakouts from Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, and Nino Niederreiter, but Yeo may need to win a series before the media takes as a legitimately good coach.
Or are we going to do this all year? Are we always going to be a bad loss or two from having this discussion? A line combination or backup goalie that doesn't work out? Is this just going to drag on until Yeo makes a deep Cup run or is asked to walk?
When do you think it ends, Wilderness?