This year has been one filled with plenty of ups and down for the Wild, and with a recent coaching change what better time to get to the bottom of what's going on in Minnesota.
C&B:What were the main reasons for Yeo's firing? Will his replacement do any better?
HW: Mainly, losing and the trend of losing like this in years past. You could almost set your clock to the next Minnesota Wild extended losing streak. Now, every team has losing streaks at some point in the year, but those streaks aren't a regular occurrence roughly the same time of year every season. If the Wild want to think of itself as a playoff contender, rather than pretender, it can ill-afford extended, month-long losing skids that takes the team completely out of a playoff picture it was comfortably in.
There are other things regarding deployment and deference to vets too, but there is so much losing a franchise and ownership group will tolerate.
Right now, John Torchetti is 2-0 in his interim bit since taking over for Yeo. It is strictly an interim basis right now and the Wild should conduct a full coaching search following the season's end. Will a new coach be an improvement? As long as it's not Randy Carlyle, there's hope.
You can read our full reaction to Mike Yeo's dismissal here.
C&B: How has the play of veterans like Zach Parise, Thomas Vanek, Ryan Suter and Devan Dubnyk been?
HW: Dubnyk has been exactly what we thought he was going to be. He's solid and durable, but we expected a return to earth after what he showed last season. He's still a very good goaltender and doing what we expected him to do.
Ryan Suter has cooled since his torrid start to the season, but he's still playing well.
Parise is the heart and soul of the team and since his MCL sprain, he hasn't been his normal self. We got flashes of brilliance early, and as of late, but there was an extended period between the middle of December and a week ago where he was very underwhelming.
Thomas Vanek makes everyone in the Twin Cities pissed. He's frustratingly good. He is a creative player on the puck and extremely streaky with very little hustle and give-a-damn on the ice. He looked like a new man early in the season, but has cooled off considerably and returned to some brutal habits that make you want to rear your hair out. Vanek is who we thought he is, and Wild fans hate him for it.
C&B: Do you think there is a chance the Wild would move Dumba?
HW: I think there is always a chance they could move him. I don't want him moved, though. Given a chance with a new coaching staff, he could blossom into a top offensive defenseman in this league. And for that reason, he could be a nice trade option that could get something significant in return. But let's not talk about trading away 21 year old talent with a booming shot and possesses skills this team badly needs.