Mike Yeo just can't win. I mean, he can on the ice, but with fans, he cannot win. He has led his team to the playoffs the last three seasons and in two of them, his team has advanced to the second round. This season the Wild has been right in the middle of the pack in a very tough division and has been in the playoff picture since the beginning if the season.
Yes, yes, yes, we get it. He's been the coach while the Wild have made the post-season in Minnesota become a regularly occurring event.
But as losing streaks mount, the criticisms of him as coach become louder and louder until, "Fire Yeo," can no longer be ignored. However, this year, just a loss to the Florida Panthers in which the team dominated most statistical categories, including almost 40 shots on goal, yet lost by a 2-1 score, people still want to point the finger at Yeo.
Look, I'm not here to tell you whether or not you should think Yeo should be fired or not. I'm here to tell you what he controls and what he doesn't so we can stop with such asinine reasoning or even seemingly unprovoked out-cries for his dismissal after just a single loss in the NHL.
Losses happen in pro sports. Teams that make the post-season in baseball lose 50, 60, sometimes 70 times in the season. In football, teams can lose one quarter to half of the games on the schedule and still reach the playoffs. Hockey is no different. Losses happen. So getting mad after any particular loss is futile and misplaced anger.
Is Yeo deserving of criticism? Absolutely. He controls the day-to-day line-up and has to balance playing time among the active players. I've been critical of Yeo making questionable roster decisions by calling up and starting Kurtis Gabriel, or not scratching Nate Prosser more often. Scratching Justin Fontaine for not playing well, yet letting Mikael Granlund work through his issues. Allowing Ryan Suter play 29 minutes on a nightly basis when we've seen that Suter is most effective when he plays somewhere between 24 and 26 minutes. Even more maddening is deployment of Mikko Koivu and Ryan Suter in 3v3 overtime and never letting Jason Zucker see the ice when 3v3 is most definitely a speed game. His deference to vets like Zach Parise perhaps coming back from injury too quickly. The list goes on and on.
But what you can't blame him for is when the team fails to score more goals than the other team. Sometimes an opposing goalie, like Al Montoya the other night, is just hot. The puck can look like a beach ball when goalies are playing that well. The power play struggling to enter the zone and get set up can't be solely on Yeo's shoulders. Ultimately, the actions on the ice aren't necessarily up to him. Sure, the coaching staff installs a system, but the players still have to execute.
Look at it this way: The coach is getting paid roughly $1 million per season, while the players are getting over $69 million to play.
So, complain and disagree with Yeo as much as you want when it comes to who is on the ice and where they're at for the Wild. For happenings on the ice, that falls on the players.
So the next time the Wild dominates a team to the tune of 40 shots on goal, but loses, understand that hockey is a funny game and that those things happen. It might be incredibly frustrating and it shouldn't happen regularly, but know that if the Wild plays like that, is should win more games than it loses. Mike Yeo deserves criticism for some of the things he's done in the past, and I'm not here to tell you you should change your opinion of him either way, but let's criticize him for the things he can control and not the things he cannot. The team not finding the net on 40 shots is not on Yeo.