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On Coaches, Players, and Motivation

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The Wild seem to fail to play a full game. So who is to blame? Many would point the finger at Mike Yeo.

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, there, folks. So, as some of you know, I teach- band and music, grades 3, 4, 5, and High School. One of my favorite days with my 5th grade band is "band is a team" day. We put the instruments away, pull out the candles, sit in a circle, hold hands and have a seance.

Ok, not really, but we sit and we talk about what a band is. And, ultimately, it's a team. Everyone has their part to play (literally and figuratively), etc. etc. It's my job to teach those people their jobs, coordinate them doing their jobs together, and then correct them when they do their jobs incorrectly.

Here's the thing: I can't do their job for them. It doesn't matter how many times or in how many different ways I tell the trumpets that the rhythm they're playing in measure 69 is wrong, if THEY don't change it, then that's on them.

What Comes Next

I know the comeback here: If the coach (me) can't get the players (students) to respond, then that's on the coach (me). well..... maybe.

Whether you really want to believe it or not (and this is especially true of adults) no one is going to make you change anything about your process if you don't want to change. The problem we haven't addressed yet is: "is change really necessary"?

While the Wild are not high in the standings, they are 4thin Score-Adjusted Corsi, 3rd in Score-Adjusted Fenwick, and 1st in the league in Score-Adjusted SOG. In other words, Wild are basically out-possessing other teams drastically.

So, in answer to the question: do the Wild really NEED to change?

Not Particularly

The Wild currently lead the league in pretty much every predictive statistic we have access to (or are close to leading it). Unfortunately, the Wild currently sit dead last in 5-on-5 Sv%. Their 5-on-5 Sh% is 8.4, which is in the top half of the league (but barely). This results in the Wild's PDO (essentially a measure of luck, as Sv% and Sh% tend to vary by random chance) at a terrible 98.4- 6th-worst in the league.

That alone is reason for hope and #Faith moving forward. It is very unlikely (though possible) that the team will continue to get this poor goaltending for the rest of the season.

Mr. Fix-It

What's worse for the Wild is their Powerplay (I know, hot take there). Obviously the PP is a sore spot for Wild fans, and rightfully so. It is, to say the least, not very good.

So, here's where the whole "coaching" thing comes into play. Usually, when you meet resistance to change, it's because the person thinks no change is needed. That isn't the case here, as pretty much everyone in the Wild organization has been eager to show their disdain for the powerplay.

It's time for something different. Even if only for a few games, the Wild need to change something so drastically that they play relaxed and loose. Maybe a lineup of 5 guys who haven't played together (at least on the PP) could figure something out. Koivu, Zucker, Nino, Spurge, and Folin. I honestly don't care about position- stop the guys thinking so much and get them reacting instinctually.

Yeo

Mike Yeo, for all his faults (I'm looking at YOU, Nino's TOI) has been very good for the Wild. As Ger pointed out a while back, the Wild were a pretty terrible possession team for a long time. This year they very nearly lead the league in Corsi, Fenwick, and score-adjusted of the same.

The PP definitely needs work, and the goaltending is struggling. But Yeo has improved the Wild's style of play, and that's not worth throwing away. Will the ride be perfect? No, of course not. But Yeo has made far more good decisions than poor.

Furthermore, I find it hard to believe that he is even mostly to blame for the Wild's failure to play complete games; in-game, players need to look to each other to find motivation and play for each other and for the team. When they're out there, I doubt any of them are worried about making Yeo particularly proud. They are professionals who (presumably) take pride in their work.

That said... he needs to find a new friend to help him out with the powerplay.

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All stats from Hockey Analysis and Puck on Net