There's a term in American sports that perhaps you aren't familiar with -- the "coaching bump." That's when a team turns things around immediately after a midseason coaching change. It's already worked this NHL campaign for the Edmonton Oilers, and the Minnesota Wild are hoping to follow suit after they fired Dean Evason on Monday and replaced him on a full-time basis with John Hynes. Will the "bump" be in play Tuesday night at home vs. St. Louis? The Wild have lost seven straight but are -160 on the SportsLine consensus.
Minnesota basically sleepwalked through Sunday's 4-1 loss to Detroit, which was clearly the final straw for the front office regarding Evason. The Wild are way too talented to have just 14 points through 19 games. Only rebuilding Chicago and tanking San Jose have fewer – and only two fewer. The Wild are 31st in goals-against per game (3.95), ahead of only the Sharks (4.14), and last in penalty-killing percentage (66.7%). They have only four regulation wins, tied for second fewest in the NHL. Minnesota is averaging an NHL-worst 1.86 goals per game in the winless stretch.
Wild President of Hockey Operations Bill Guerin felt "something had to change" as the team spiraled into a seven-game skid, adding: "You can't trade 23 players."
"The coaches can't go out and execute for the player and play," Guerin said after the Wild introduced Hynes at Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday morning. "But it just didn't feel like it was going to come back. What I was seeing, 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 and generating offense."
Evason, in the final season of a three-year contract, was 147-77-27 through parts of five seasons. He was 8-15 in the Stanley Cup playoffs, qualifying each of his four previous seasons, but Minnesota never advanced past the first round.
Hynes has coached both New Jersey and Nashville and was fired by the Predators in May after they failed to qualify for the playoffs last season for the first time since 2013-14.
The 48-year-old Hynes and Guerin have known each other for years as Hynes previously coached Pittsburgh's AHL affiliate while Guerin was a player development coach and assistant general manager for the Penguins. Hynes was also hired as Devils head coach by Ray Shero, who is now a senior adviser for the Wild. With Evason's top assistant, Bob Woods, also fired, the team promoted Patrick Dwyer from their AHL affiliate to be an assistant on Hynes' staff.
Minnesota will be without a top-six forward Ryan Hartman on Tuesday. He was suspended two games for a dangerous trip of Detroit's Alex DeBrincat on Sunday. Hartman has seven goals and four assists this season. It's the first meeting of the season between the Blues and Wild. Minnesota went 3-1 last season, but St. Louis is still 4-1-1 in its last six games at Xcel Energy Center and 10-3-1 in the past 14 games against the Wild overall.
Since Edmonton fired head coach Jay Woodcroft and replaced him with Kris Knoblauch, the Oilers have won four of seven. That's the kind of coaching bump the Wild are hunting for.
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