Q and A with Wild coach Mike Yeo

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 7, 2013 - 5:42 PM

Team will have a new look, new confidence this season.

hide

Wild coach Mike Yeo has some changes in mind that he thinks the fans will enjoy: “We’re going to be more aggressive off the rush. … We want to keep the puck. We don’t want to just give it up.”

Photo: Brian Peterson • Star Tribune file,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The Wild ended a four-year playoff drought last spring when it pulled out a must-win game at Colorado to grab the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Minnesota looks to build on that this season, albeit with a very different-looking team. Following an offseason that was a far cry from 2012 when the Wild signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to 13-year deals, General Manager Chuck Fletcher had to work to get cap-compliant.

That led to the subtraction of four key forwards — Matt Cullen, Devin Setoguchi, Cal Clutterbuck and Pierre-Marc Bouchard — and defenseman Tom Gilbert. The Wild signed veteran forward Matt Cooke and former Gophers defenseman Keith Ballard.

In addition this season, the Wild largely will rely on the continued growth of youngsters Charlie Coyle, Jason Zucker and Jonas Brodin, plus a solid base of veterans — Parise, Suter, captain Mikko Koivu, Dany Heatley, Jason Pominville and goaltender Niklas Backstrom.

As Mike Yeo heads into his third season, the Wild coach sat down with the Star Tribune for a Q and A:

Q: Will there be any system tweaks?

A: Our fans will really enjoy this. We’re going to be more aggressive off the rush. … We want to keep the puck. We don’t want to just give it up.

Q: That sounds like you’re saying you’ll be less “dump and chase”?

A: I hate that people think that we’re a dump-and-chase team. It’s completely false. … But there’s going to be a focus for us to try to create more offensively off the rush. So our entries, we have to find ways to attack the zone with more speed, make more plays with support on our entries so we’re carrying the puck inside the blue line with the puck still on our stick. It’ll give us a chance to score more goals, but we’re going to have to be patient early in the year. It’s going to lead to mistakes, and mistakes lead to scoring chances and goals.

Q: What’s your biggest question mark going into camp?

A: Who’s on our team? Who plays with who? Honestly, I’ve got about 1,000 different combinations right now. Every day I go in the office, my board changes about three times. You’re going to see a lot of different guys playing with different people, guys playing in different positions, as well.

Q: Will Coyle and Mikael Granlund go head-to-head for the second-line center spot?

A: I would say, yeah.

Q: What do you expect from Granlund after a disappointing rookie year?

A: He’s flying right under the radar this year, which is perfect. That’s fine. With young kids, with that kind of skill, you have to have some patience. Some of them find it right away, some of them, it takes them a little bit longer. We saw last year that it was an adjustment for him, … but he’s a very talented kid.

Q: How much will you rely on Coyle and Zucker?

A: I want to see improvement. I thought Charlie really established himself as a player. He came in and for a long period of time played a consistent game. Zuck, he has the flashes that draw everybody’s attention and I know he’s a fan favorite, but the bottom line for me, I want to see the consistency in him now. There’s got to be stretches of good game, good game, good game.

Q: Which other kids have shots for jobs?

A: Nino [Niederreiter] is going to get a real good look. [Justin] Fontaine is a guy I’m very interested in seeing. He’s going to have to earn it, but I’m very curious and anxious to see how he does at this level. I want to see how [Zack] Phillips and [Brett] Bulmer’s doing, and we’ve got to make sure Bulmer’s healthy. [Erik] Haula had a great development camp. And Matt [Dumba] will get a great shot.

Q: What do you expect from Heatley?

A: It’s a big year for him [contract year], and I know that he’s really motivated. And I want to put him in a spot where he can be successful because I think he’s going to have a good year. I really do. He’s been working hard this summer and we missed him big time [after he was hurt April 3].

Q: Is it now or never for Marco Scandella?

A: Marco must take a step forward. We need Marco to be able to deliver night in and night out.

Q: How much do you need a bounceback year from Kyle Brodziak?

A: I’ve got full confidence he will bounce back and have a good year for us and develop chemistry with Cooke. Brodzy has a huge role on the team. We talk about No. 2 center, but a lot of times you’re using Brodzy as the No. 2 centerman just based on ice time. I’m counting on him being a hard guy to play against and I have no doubt he will be.

Q: You’re entering the final year of your contract. Have you talked to Chuck about an extension?

A: No. Believe it or not, it doesn’t worry me. You know me; that’s not the way my brain operates. This is where I want to stay. This is where I want to be, this is who I want to coach. But the one thing I’ve promised myself this year, every day I’m just going to coach my butt off. And one thing I will say for sure, there will never be a day where I coach to save my job. I’m coaching to win.

Q: How critical was it to make the playoffs last year?

A: It was such an important step for our group. You could see it in our players, that last stretch of actually clinching it. You could see it in all of us; we knew how important it was. That fear can be almost paralyzing. But we overcame it and now we don’t have that fear. We can’t say that we haven’t made the playoffs in four years. We made the playoffs last year. And now our focus is on something bigger than that.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Portland 0 Postponed
Brooklyn 0
Sacramento 0 Postponed
New York 0
Philadelphia 53 3rd Qtr 6:43
New Orleans 66
Minnesota 48 3rd Qtr 7:13
Oklahoma City 57
Orlando 63 3rd Qtr 6:23
Memphis 75
Boston 17 2nd Qtr
Utah 17
Denver 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Army 68 FINAL
American Univ 66
Wright State 64 FINAL
Detroit 53
Syracuse 83 FINAL
North Carolina 93
Cleveland State 56 FINAL
Oakland 59
Delaware State 54 FINAL
NC Central 55
High Point 63 FINAL
Presbyterian 54
Howard 41 2nd Half 1:30
Bethune-Cookman 40
Coppin State 66 2nd Half 5:15
NC A&T 59
Nicholls 51 FINAL
Northwestern St 80
Hampton 56 FINAL
SC State 65
Gardner-Webb 46 2nd Half 9:00
Campbell 56
MD-Eastern Shore 39 2nd Half
Florida A&M 30
Stephen F Austin 62 2nd Half 9:35
Lamar 49
Central Arkansas 48 2nd Half 10:47
New Orleans 68
Norfolk State 54 2nd Half 6:22
Savannah State 39
TX A&M-CC 51 2nd Half 9:15
SE Louisiana 50
Sam Houston St 63 2nd Half 11:51
Abilene Christian 46
McNeese State 79 2nd Half 2:30
Incarnate Word 80
Milwaukee 36 2nd Half 6:17
Valparaiso 67
Alcorn State 28 1st Half 4:00
Alabama A&M 35
Southern U 28 1st Half 6:34
Alabama State 16
Prairie View 25 1st Half 5:50
Ark-Pine Bluff 30
Texas 18 1st Half 7:48
Iowa State 22
Texas Southern 28 2nd Half
Miss Valley St 32
Long Island 85 FINAL
Bryant 88
Central Conn St 51 FINAL
St Francis-NY 49
Fairleigh Dickinson 0 Postponed
Sacred Heart 0
St Francis-PA 87 FINAL
Wagner 74
Delaware State 59 FINAL
NC Central 66
Howard 53 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 61
Coppin State 49 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 88 FINAL
SC State 53
Norfolk State 54 FINAL
Savannah State 56
MD-Eastern Shore 54 FINAL
Florida A&M 64
Angelo State 55 FINAL
Abilene Christian 70
Samford 32 FINAL
(25) Chattanooga 49
Prairie View 83 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 66
Alcorn State 58 FINAL
Alabama A&M 55
Southern U 53 FINAL
Alabama State 49
Texas Southern 63 FINAL
Miss Valley St 52
(12) Texas A&M 61 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 79
Robert Morris 68 FINAL
Mount St Marys 44
East Tenn St 72 FINAL
Mercer 70
Wofford 56 FINAL
Furman 58
Morehead St 64 FINAL
Tenn Tech 54
Illinois 57 FINAL
Michigan 70
Quinnipiac 0 Postponed
Manhattan 0
Saint Peters 0 Postponed
Rider 0
(18) Miss State 13 1st Half 6:11
Auburn 15
(15) Nebraska 26 1st Half 4:44
(20) Iowa 17

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How optimistic are you about the 2015 Twins?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close