General Manager Chuck Fletcher and Head Coach Mike Yeo sat down with the media Friday afternoon to officially announce the Mike Yeo contract extension and talk some shop. It's been nearly a month since the Wild were eliminated from the playoffs and it was about time we got some details on what to expect from this squad during the summer months.
Of course the big official news wasn't really news as we all by now were aware that Mike Yeo has signed up for another 3 seasons behind the bench for the Wild. Though the conversation started with coaching and staff talk we did get some additional nuggets in regards to player updates going into the summer. We'll get to that a little down the road though.
Chuck Fletcher opened the conversation citing that the contract extension for Mike Yeo was "Richly earned" and he had asked but 2 things of Yeo for his tenure. To "win hockey games" and "win while developing players." I wouldn't mind Chuck adding to that list this off-season with maybe, 'Win the Stanley Cup' but lets not get too far ahead of ourselves either.
Fletcher also went on to talk about how well Yeo was able to handle the distractions of the season and how he was able to deal with the crazy goalie situation. It definitely was unique to the season but I think you have to give the credit here to the goalies that stepped up into that situation and excelled and to Fletcher himself for having the foresight to bring in a goalie like Ilya Bryzgalov to patch up some holes.
It's about being a winner. The biggest thing that winners have is an attitude where you're never satisfied
The fresh-faced Mike Yeo will be in charge of the coaching staff under him, handing out assignments and making any decisions on who to retain or who to let go. Fletcher said that he doesn't expect any changes to the staff and those decisions would be coming soon. They did sing some praises to the likes of Brad Bombardir and his efforts in getting the kids in Iowa ready for the show in St. Paul.
Getting onto some player news and updates. Chuck Fletcher did touch on Erik Haula and his broken jaw, very relieved that it will not require any surgery and he thinks he'll be good to go in a couple weeks time. Keith Ballard had surgery on a sports hernia and by all accounts should be fine for the start of training camp.
In what I consider the biggest actual news of the press conference, Fletcher touched on just where Backstrom and Harding are right now. "Both in the Twin Cities" Chuck was quick to quip as he then went on to say Josh Harding is coming along and they of course fully expect him to be ready for training camp in September. Fletcher also stated that Niklas Backstrom is feeling "Better now than he did at any point last season" going on to say he's in "A very good spot right now".
So it sounds like Backstrom is on the up and up, which you would expect as much with him sitting out a great portion of the season by either not playing games or being injured. Harding's situation, you can wrap it up all pretty in a bow, but it really cannot convince me it will ever be anything that completely get better or under control. He'll have his days, and about the best you can hope for is they are rare.
Another interesting bit to leave you speculating over, Chuck Fletcher alluded to the trade marked "Maybe being more important this year". He seems to hint here that outside the imminent signing of Thomas Vanek (duh) the next wave of players coming in could be more along the lines of trades as opposed to free agent signings.
All in all, the presser was about what you would expect, no bombshells or firings like we saw in Pittsburgh today. The player updates were probably my biggest draw as the rest of the information provided was really just summarizing what we already know. If you would like to watch the presser we have it for you right here, or you can shuffle over to Wild.com for the video and other goodies they are putting out these days.