Guerin explains Evason firing: 'Something had to change'
Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin gave head coach Dean Evason a vote of confidence less than two weeks ago amid the team's underwhelming start to the campaign. Then Guerin fired him on Monday.
The executive explained his change of heart while introducing John Hynes as Minnesota's new bench boss on Tuesday.
"The coaches can't go out and execute for the players and play, but I just, I didn't feel like it was going to come back. ... I think it had just gotten to that point where - almost no matter what they did - the guys were having a hard time executing and generating offense," Guerin said. "Something had to change. 'You can't trade 23 players' is the old saying. I just had that feeling that it wasn't going to come back."
When asked to explain what "it" was, the GM elaborated.
"It's a little bit of everything. It's the confidence, it's the swagger, it's the ability to make plays," Guerin said. "The feeling that when you step out on the ice, you're going to accomplish something. ... There's just that it factor, and you feel it and you know it."
The Wild fired Evason and assistant coach Bob Woods after starting the campaign 5-10-4. Minnesota has one less victory than the rebuilding Chicago Blackhawks, the only team beneath the Wild in the Central Division. Heading into Tuesday's slate, Minnesota was seven points out of the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Wild have made the playoffs in each of the last four campaigns.
Hynes' first game as head coach of the Wild is mere hours away, but he has prior experience stepping behind a team's bench midseason. He came in for the Predators in January 2020 and Nashville went 16-11-1 to close out the campaign under his direction. The Arizona Coyotes eliminated the Preds in the qualifying round of that year's expanded playoffs.
The veteran coach outlined his plan for the reeling Wild on Tuesday.
"I think you have to come in and, first and foremost, it's important to get to know the players," Hynes said. "It's on the fly, but I believe when you come into this situation, everybody's hurting. It's a tough situation. ...
"It's first 'who,' then 'what.' I think when it comes to the 'what' side, it's really just pinpointing simple things. You're not going to come in midseason and make wholesale changes, but I think you want to work on identity, you want to work on the mindset of the team. You come in and make some slight tweaks."
With that strategy, Guerin believes the Wild will be able to right the ship with Hynes at the helm.
"The slate's clean for the guys. It's a new day, it's a new voice, they're going to get a new message. ... I know these players really well, their buy-in level is really high," Guerin said. "If they can make this team better or be better, they'll do it. ... I think they'll listen to John right away."
Rookie defenseman Brock Faber seems ready to hear that message.
"We have a playoff hockey team in here," he said, per The Athletic's Michael Russo. "This is a wake-up call for all of us."