Former Minnesota Wild bench boss Mike Yeo spoke out for the first time since he was fired from the organization on March 13th. There was nothing particularly "breaking newsworthy" of his comments, but there were a few points he touched on that are worth mentioning beyond the typical 'thank you for the opportunity' stuff you would expect to hear after a coach is fired.
When he was asked if he had watched any of the Wild's games since his ousting he said he had watched maybe 10 minutes of the game against the Edmonton Oilers just to see if Torch had made any big changes. He stated that he wasn't surprised that the team went on a run after he was fired. The accountability shifted on the players and the urgency in their game came back, there is nothing new about that when you fire a head coach.
He also said that he had seen but not read the rumors in the papers about his job stability, and knew that if he couldn't turn it all around he would very likely lose his job. He called his last game against the Boston Bruins, "pretty pathetic". It's not hard to agree with that.
From the sounds of the interview, Yeo seemed to not quite be over his firing. He said that he's in a better place now, and it was pretty dark for a while. Listening to the tone in his voice though, it's tough to say he's still not completely through the woods yet. He didn't go so far as to blame his players, or his coaching staff for his firing. That is probably a wise move if you want to coach again in the NHL.
The thing that stuck out to me the most was probably his comments on what he thought went wrong. He said that as the trade rumors started swirling around the team, the scoring just dried up. It's an interesting take because if there is one thing I've learned about the NHL, it's that trade rumors are always going to be a thing, especially leading up to the trade deadline. There are countless other teams that seem to have little to no trouble circumnavigating those rumors without completely losing sight of the goal.
He also said that he wished he had a chance to turn it around. That concept seems a little silly to me. Yeo coached here for nearly 5 seasons, and around this time of year in the last few seasons he's had these same struggles. He's had plenty of chances to turn it around. If these trade rumors were really the catalyst for the teams struggles, I'd be inclined to believe this wasn't a new struggle. It would seem they have this issue every year, like clockwork, and he should know it's coming and figure out a way to minimize the damage. He should have figured that out by last season.
Yeo also stated that, despite a franchise best start of the season that "It never felt right". He did not elaborate on that any, just said something felt off about this year even though the team was winning. Maybe part of that was the players bringing in outside power play help in the offseason, maybe part of that was missing Assistant Coach Daryl Sydor due to his legal troubles. I'm not sure. It would have been nice if someone had pressed on that a little more to see just what he meant.
On the lighter side of things, Yeo said he left Torch a note on the whiteboard in the coaches office before he left wishing him luck. He also stated he is going to use this as a learning experience and that he has received a lot of support from friends and family along with people he highly respects in the NHL coaching community. He said he knows he's a better coach today than he was a week ago because of this.
I wish you the best of luck Coach Yeo. We look forward to seeing where you will land and wish you all the success in the world. Unless you're playing the Minnesota Wild of course!