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Playing GM: What to do With Mike Yeo

The pressure is rising, and along with it, the heat. What do you do?

The answers aren't clear. What do you do?
The answers aren't clear. What do you do?
Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo

The head coach of an NHL team is not an easy job. You are tasked with nothing less than taking 24 players, the majority of whom make more money than you, and convincing them that not only should they do what you say, but that you have some sort of authority to do something if they don't. It is, at once, the greatest job and the worst job.

The pressure is massive. You are the fall guy. The owner signs the checks, the GM picks the team, and you take the heat if and when something goes wrong. There are constant questions from fans about how you do your job. No one ever agrees with you. Win, and everything is fine. Lose, even once, and there will be calls for your head.

Ten games into a 48 games season, the Minnesota Wild are 4-5-1. Craig Leipold and Chuck Fletcher have gone out and built a team that should be better than sub .500. The major media are picking up the scent, something you don't want to happen if you are head coach. When the story is the coach, things are either off the charts good, or they are dismally bad.

There isn't much talk of Jack Adams right now.

You played GM on what to do with Mikael Granlund, the team in general, and Devin Setoguchi. Now, you have to play GM and make one of the toughest decisions a GM can make. What do you do with Mike Yeo? Your options are limited, being that this is a binary choice.

Fire Mike Yeo

You can fire him. You bring in a new coach, change the system for the third time in five years, and maybe you win some games. Hell, maybe you even make the playoffs. A veteran coach could step in and right the ship, right? It's been done so many times that it is all but certain, right?

Wrong, but that doesn't matter.

Firing Mike Yeo does a number of things. It sends a message to the team, but it's the nuclear option, and if it doesn't work, you don't have anything else. Firing Yeo also sends a message to Craig Leipold, one that, as GM, you don't really want to send. This would be the second head coach you have had to fire, after passing on the "obvious" choice both times.

Removing Yeo from the picture then brings up the question of who you hire. The list of available, veteran coaches is not long right now. Having passed on Ken Hitchcock and Dave Tippett already, the two best options are gone.

Keep Mike Yeo Around

You stay loyal to your pick, you plow ahead, hoping it is just a chemistry issue, that maybe the players will pull their heads from their nether regions and start scoring goals, while also deciding to prevent them. You also hope that somehow unicorns are real and leprechauns are waiting at the end of the rainbow with more than a bowl of Lucky Charms.

Fans are going to continue to turn against you, the media is going to begin to question your own job security. Once the media turns the story to you, things have really gone south. Loyalty only goes so far in the upper echelons of the world. You make the call to stick with your guy, and it doesn't work out... you may want to update your resume.

Long and Short

Firing a head coach is never the first option. GMs always try to make a trade before pulling the trigger on firing a coach. Fletcher has yet to... wait... we're getting word he traded Darroll Powe for Mike Rupp just recently. The season is not nearly long enough for the miracle turn around fans would expect. Changing the system and everything that goes with it would be a shock to the players that may not be recoverable in the time frame fans are going to want. Nowhere near that time frame.

You have a choice to make. What do you do? Why? Who do you hire to replace him?