Dean Evason will make his NHL head-coaching debut when the Minnesota Wild play host to the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.
Evason was named the Wild’s interim coach Friday after Bruce Boudreau was fired. The Wild (27-23-7) are three points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference with 25 regular-season games remaining.
The Wild took a 4-3 shootout loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday after blowing a two-goal lead in the third period.
“It’s not just one win, it’s not just one loss,” first-year Minnesota general manager Bill Guerin said. “It’s not one week. It’s a series of things. In a decision like this, it’s never just one thing. I just felt like the timing was right. … I just feel like the timing is right to do it now. That’s just the way I felt.
“The record the last 10 (7-3-0 entering Thursday) has been pretty good. There’s just some things I feel need to be better. … Like I said, not one thing, but (Thursday) night was a game we should’ve won.”
Boudreau was 158-110-35 in four seasons as Wild coach.
Evason, 55, was in his second season as a Minnesota assistant after coaching the Nashville Predators’ AHL affiliate in Milwaukee for six seasons, going 242-161-53. He was an assistant with the Washington Capitals from 2005-12 and worked on Boudreau’s staff there from 2007-12.
“You have to be who you are and you have to do what you believe in when you get these opportunities,” Evason said. “We want the group to be accountable and aggressive. If we make a few mistakes because we’re aggressive, we can live with that, but not if we are passive. (Thursday) night as an example, we were too passive.”
Players said they were surprised by Boudreau’s firing.
“We didn’t really expect that,” defenseman Ryan Suter said. “The team had been playing well.
“We have a lot of respect for Bruce. He was a great guy and a great coach. It’s sad to see him go. … We were still responding to Bruce. At the same time, if Billy thinks other guys need to get going more, maybe a new voice will help certain things.”
Guerin said Evason would coach the Wild for the remainder of the season.
“The one thing I really do like about Dean is his passion, his fire for the game,” Guerin said. “I am hoping that that translates to the players. I think these guys really like Dean a lot.”
The Sharks are coming off a 3-2 victory at Winnipeg on Friday night, as Melker Karlsson and Timo Meier scored in an 89-second span in the third period.
Marcus Sorensen also scored for the Sharks, who are 3-1-0 in their past seven games, with all three victories coming on the road. Aaron Dell made 30 saves and got some help from the goalpost on a shot by the Jets’ Kyle Connor with 20 seconds remaining.
“Yeah, that was a nice bounce,” Dell said.
Meier, who scored the winner off a rebound at 6:47 of the final period, has three goals and three assists in a four-game point streak.
“I was a little worried that (Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck) was going to get his stick on it, but luckily it went in, and I’ll take those any day,” said Meier, whose 19 goals rank second on the team behind Evander Kane’s 21.
–Field Level Media