There have been a number of events and items that led to Mike Yeo eventually getting fired on Saturday night following a 4-2 loss at the hands of the Boston Bruins. The loss capped off eight consecutive losses and the Wild was losers in 16 of its last 20 games. That was the fourth time in four seasons that the Wild have plummeted out of the playoff picture after a strong start to the season. The only saving grace for Yeo was that in three of those seasons, he was able to get the benefit of a trade that revived the team enough to make the playoffs.
But because the coach was fired, does not mean that the players are off the hook. If anything, it means that the focus is now solely on them. The team features eight players 30 years old or older with five of those players being former captains*. Players are paid to play the games. A coach can only do so much from behind the bench. So some, if not all, culpability must lie firmly on their shoulders. Zach Parise knows this.
Zach Parise: "You take responsibility when your coach gets fired because at the end of the day, we're the ones who weren't playing well."— Chad Graff (@ChadGraff) February 14, 2016
When a coach gets fired, it's almost always because of performance on the ice, unless you're John Tortarella. It was the players that couldn't make a pass. It was the players that couldn't score. It was the players that failed to come out of the locker room looking lethargic and defeated. It was the players that couldn't win in overtime. It's the fault of the players that they cannot execute the little things to be a good team.
And what's worse, is that we saw this team be a positive possession team, score the most goals in franchise history, and make the post-season with relative success by getting to the Western Conference semifinals. The players on this team have talent. They have been successful on other teams, and with the Wild. There is no reason this team should be in this situation, yet here we are.
There is a lot of blame to be handed around on this team. The coach ended up taking the brunt of it, and maybe the man that brought the players here will be next. However, the players are paid to perform and when they don't, people lose their jobs.
Mike Yeo seems like a great person. By all accounts, he is a first class individual and treated everyone with respect. Maybe it was that he was too nice of a guy and allowed the veterans off the hook too many times. There might be a memoir written by a former player telling all that happened, but unless that happens, it's likely no one will truly know what exactly led to the dismissal of Mike Yeo.
And now, the players have no excuses left.
*Thomas Vanek was a co-captain with Steve Ott in Buffalo before being traded to the New York Islanders in 2014.