The Minnesota Wild fired head coach Mike Yeo on Saturday, as first reported by Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. John Torchetti, the team's coach of its AHL affiliate Iowa Wild, was named Minnesota's interim head coach. The Wild confirmed the news and provided a statement from general manager Chuck Fletcher.
"I would like to thank Mike for the hard work and dedication he provided behind the bench for the Minnesota Wild organization and wish him the best in the future," Fletcher said on Saturday.
The Wild sat at 23-22-10, five points out of the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference, at the time of the announcement. Yeo went 173-132-44 in four-plus seasons in Minnesota.
Chad Graff of the Pioneer Press provided additional comments from Fletcher and Torchetti on Sunday:
#mnwild GM Chuck Fletcher on struggling team: "I take full ownership. I hired the coach and chose the players."— Chad Graff (@ChadGraff) February 14, 2016
#mnwild GM Chuck Fletcher on Mike Yeo: "He deserves a lot of credit for stabilizing this franchise."— Chad Graff (@ChadGraff) February 14, 2016
#mnwild GM Chuck Fletcher on John Torchetti: "He has free reign to do what he thinks we need to win."— Chad Graff (@ChadGraff) February 14, 2016
#mnwild GM Chuck Fletcher: "I'm disappointed in everyone including myself. There's not one player in that room playing as well as they can."— Chad Graff (@ChadGraff) February 14, 2016
#MNWild GM Chuck Fletcher said John Torchetti could, "absolutely " become the next full time head coach.— Chad Graff (@ChadGraff) February 14, 2016
#mnwild interim coach John Torchetti on the team's leaders: "I'm going to hold them accountable and push them hard."— Chad Graff (@ChadGraff) February 14, 2016
#mnwild interim coach John Torchetti: "We've got to start being the hunter, not the hunted."— Chad Graff (@ChadGraff) February 14, 2016
When asked about the critique, Yeo didn't agree with it, per Graff: “I really don’t care what he says,” Yeo said.
The firing comes on the heels of 13 losses in 14 games and some interesting tweets from former Wild player Zenon Konopka:
The Minnesota Wild have so much talent. All the pieces to be Stanley Cup champs- wasting years isn't fair to the players or fans #YeohastoGo— Zenon Konopka (@ZenonKonopka) February 10, 2016
Minnesota had not made the playoffs for three straight seasons before Yeo arrived in 2011. He failed to qualify in his first season but has taken his team to the postseason in the past three years, advancing to the conference semifinals in the past two.
|2011-12||35-36-11||81||Did not qualify|
|2012-13||26-19-3||55||Lost in conference quarterfinals|
|2013-14||43-27-12||98||Lost in conference semifinals|
|2014-15||46-28-8||100||Lost in conference semifinals|
"I'm not freaking quitting here," Yeo said following the defeat, per Russo.
But the Wild brass felt it was time to make the move. John Shannon of Hockey Central on Sportsnet thought Torchetti was a good replacement even before it was reported:
With Mike Yeo fired, you have to wonder if John Torchetti, the AHL Wild coach in Iowa, is the obvious replacement?— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) February 14, 2016
The Wild still have a shot at the playoffs, and a fresh start with a new coach could be enough to put them over the edge and into the postseason.