ST. PAUL, Minn. — Bruce Boudreau was fired as coach of the Minnesota Wild on Friday and replaced by assistant Dean Evason.
The Wild (27-23-7) are three points behind the Arizona Coyotes for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. They are 7-3-1 in their past 11 games following a 4-3 shootout loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday, a game the Wild led 3-1 in the third period.
Minnesota general manager Bill Guerin said the coaching change wasn’t a direct reaction to the loss, but the result did play into it.
“It’s not just one win, it’s not just one loss,” 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 has been pretty good. There’s just some things I feel need to be better. … Like I said, not one thing, but last night was a game we should’ve won.”
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Guerin, who was hired Aug. 21 to replace Paul Fenton, said the accountability for the season falls on the entire team, not just the coach.
“Let’s be clear here too; there’s a lot of responsibility on all our part,” he said. “Management, players, coaches. Players have to be better. Coming down the stretch in last night’s game, and in games like it in the past, we have to be better. We have to be able to win that game. There has to be accountability, and people are going to be held accountable. Players are absolutely included in that first and foremost.”
It’s the second major move made by the Wild this week. They traded forward Jason Zucker to the Pittsburgh Penguins for forward Alex Galchenyuk, defenseman prospect Calen Addison and a conditional first-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft on Monday.
“If players are hurt by this, then maybe they’re not the players that we should have here,” Guerin said. “This is the business that we’re in. It’s unfortunate. It’s always a sad time when you do this, but this is the business. Just like I said the other day with the Jason Zucker trade, this is something where I fully expect our players to show up at game time tomorrow and be ready to go.”
The Wild play the San Jose Sharks at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday (5 p.m. ET; FS-N, FS-WI, NBCSCA, NHL.TV).
Guerin said he believes the Wild can reach the playoffs this season.
“Absolutely,” he said. “We are pushing through, and like I said before, I expect this team to compete for a playoff spot. I think maybe some adjustments or a different voice that [Evason] will bring will help the guys.”
Boudreau was 158-110-35 in four seasons as Wild coach. Minnesota qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in his first two seasons but never won a series. The 65-year-old has a 567-302-115 record in 984 NHL games with the Washington Capitals, Anaheim Ducks and Wild.
Evason had been an assistant with the Wild since the start of the 2018-19 season. Prior to that, the 55-year-old coached Milwaukee of the American Hockey League for six seasons, going 242-161-53. He was an assistant with the Capitals from 2005-12 and worked on Boudreau’s staff 2007-12.
This is the eighth coaching change in the NHL this season. Gerard Gallant was fired by the Vegas Golden Knights on Jan. 15 and replaced by Peter DeBoer, who had been fired by the Sharks on Dec. 11 (Bob Boughner); Peter Laviolette was fired by the Nashville Predators on Jan. 7 (John Hynes); Jim Montgomery by the Stars on Dec. 10 (Rick Bowness); Hynes by the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 3 (Alain Nasreddine); and Mike Babcock by the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 20 (Sheldon Keefe). Bill Peters resigned as Calgary Flames coach Nov. 29 (Geoff Ward).