John Torchetti expected to named interim head coach in MIN, replacing Mike Yeo, fired earlier tonite. Torchetti coaching in AHL tonight.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) February 14, 2016
The Minnesota Wild brass including owner Craig Leipold and general manager Chuck Fletcher have called upon Iowa Wild head coach John Torchetti to become the interim head coach for the NHL club after relieving Mike Yeo of the position earlier in the day. Torchetti rises to the big club after spending nearly two seasons at the helm of the Wild's AHL affiliate in Iowa. Torchetti had previously been in the organization as the bench boss of the AHL Houston Aeros, which were affiliated with the Minnesota Wild until the franchise became the Iowa Wild.
Torchetti was asked to implement and run Mike Yeo's system in Iowa to prepare the team's prospects to be ready to appear in the NHL at any given moment. With the teams in Iowa and Minnesota being so close, it became a regular function of the GM to recall players for single-game assignments. The move makes sense in that it may be the least disruptive for a team that has largely carried the same personnel over the last 3 seasons and has worked to perfect Yeo's system since 2011. But Torchetti has some NHL coaching under his belt and may also work to identify issues and bring about change, which the team badly needs in the face of the predicament it finds itself in.
Why Mike Yeo failed in Minnesota
Mike Yeo's five season in Minnesota featured many ups and downs, but in the end there were some overarching reasons that led to his dismissal.
Torchetti brings a glut of coaching experience with him, including some time in the NHL. Torchetti was the head coach for 27 games in Florida in 2003-04 and for 12 games in Los Angeles in 2005-06. He carried a losing record in both stints, but was promoted in similar situations as to the current situation in Minnesota, as an interim placeholder to carry a team into the offseason so that it could complete a full coaching evaluation and hiring process. Torchetti also spent time coaching the KHL in Russia as the Wild migrated its AHL affiliation to Iowa in 2013. He was recruited to return as then-coach Kurt Kleinendorst was dismissed after an abysmal start.
Torchetti also has a resume full of NHL assistant coaching positions with Tampa Bay, Florida, Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta. He won a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks as an assistant in 2010. He also won a Calder Cup (AHL) as the head coach of the Birmingham Senators in 2011.
Though the Iowa Wild have struggled this year, it is important to know that Torchetti has also led the team to a recent turnaround, currently 10-6-1 during the 2016 calendar year. It won't be enough to save the season as the team started with losses in 17 of their first 23 games, but Iowa is no longer in last place and has looked much better for the better part of two months. The new coach will join the Minnesota bench and face the Canucks in Vancouver on Monday.