Wild to name Mike Yeo coach

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 16, 2011 - 6:04 PM

Yeo, who at 37 is even younger than his predecessor Todd Richards, will become the third coach in Wild history.

hide

Mike Yeo behind the Houston bench earlier this year at Xcel Energy Center

Photo: Richard Tsong-Taatarii, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

For the second time in two years, Chuck Fletcher is willing to stick his neck out on the rising star instead of the recycled vet.

The Wild general manager hopes the second time goes better than the first.

Mike Yeo, who at 37 is even younger than his predecessor Todd Richards was when he became Wild coach, has been promoted back to the NHL. The Wild will make Yeo's hiring official at an 11 a.m. news conference Friday in St. Paul.

Mere days after completing his rookie American Hockey League season by guiding the Houston Aeros to the Calder Cup Finals, the young but confident Yeo will become the third coach in Wild history.

"It's awesome," said Yeo Thursday before flying to Minnesota from Houston.

Like Richards, who beat out veterans like Dave Tippett and Peter Laviolette in June 2009, Yeo has been hired over veterans Craig MacTavish and Ken Hitchcock two years later.

But Yeo has accomplished a lot in his young career. Before arriving back in Houston, where he played for five years and once captained to a Turner Cup championship, Yeo spent five years as an assistant with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

He was an assistant alongside another candidate he beat out for the Minnesota job, Michel Therrien, in 2008 when the Penguins went to the Stanley Cup Finals. A year later, after Therrien was fired, Yeo was retained by new coach Dan Bylsma.

Together, they won a Stanley Cup. Fletcher was assistant GM of the Penguins while Yeo was there.

"When I look back, I can say Mike was so ready to be a head coach," Bylsma told the Star Tribune in May. "His work ethic is diligent. The guy is relentless in trying to come up with the right answers and trying to come up with the plan and message to the team.

"He was a big part of our backbone. He did a lot of the nuts and bolts and a lot of the work in putting together the presentation of the system to the team."

In Houston, Yeo, along with assistants Darryl Sydor and Brian Wiseman, coached the Wild's chief developmental affiliate to the second-best record (46-28-6) in the Western Conference despite a revolving door of players shuttling back and forth to Minnesota.

The Aeros played a structured, physical, forechecking, defensively responsible style and had immense success despite a lack of offensive firepower.

"I coached him all five years," Phoenix Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, a former Aeros' player, coach and GM, told the Star Tribune in May. "Mike was a hard-nosed checker, good penalty killer and sneaky tough. He didn't look for it all the time, but if you came knocking on the door, you were going to get a surprise.

"He was so well-respected by his teammates because of how hard he worked. It was always about the team winning. He had a way to portray that, which made him a real leader. He was always methodical in his approach, always very prepared as a player, always integrated well with people. You can see why he's a great, respected coach."

Unable to play anymore, Yeo became Glenn Patrick's assistant in Wilkes-Barre in 1999. In came Therrien in 2003, and the two were promoted to Pittsburgh in 2005 when Ed Olczyk was fired. Yeo was only 32.

"It was [Therrien] and I. That was it. No other assistant coach, which is unheard of now," Yeo said, before adding with a laugh, "I got to coach Mario [Lemieux] for one game. I think he saw what he was getting involved with and said, 'I want nothing to do with this.'"

That was Sidney Crosby's rookie year, and Yeo and Crosby grew close, GM Ray Shero said, because of an immense mutual respect.

"Getting a chance to work with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and many of their other young stars, it keeps you sharp every day," Yeo said. "If you want to have credibility with these guys, you better be on the ball and you better know your stuff."

But Yeo, conscious he was a very young NHL coach, was always trying to prove himself.

"My first six, seven years of coaching, I went to every coach's clinic I possibly could," Yeo said. "I still am to this day a student of the game. If I was a great player, I'd have that instant credibility. I'd walk in a room, and people would be like, 'Oh there it is.' But then it'd just be mine to lose.

"I didn't have it when I walked in the room in Pittsburgh the first time, but I've always felt very confident in my knowledge of the game, the things I was saying and the way I was presenting it. You can tell very quickly if you're respected, and I felt very comfortable they took to me."

Hiring Yeo might be a tough sell for Fletcher after originally going with the inexperienced Richards. However, Yeo's got much more experience (12 years coaching, five in the NHL) than Richards did (one year as an NHL assistant).

"I came here to become a [NHL] head coach," Yeo said in May. "If it happens next year, that'll be great. If it happens in a couple years down the road, that'd be great, too."

Bylsma believes Yeo is ready now.

"You're talking to a guy who had less experience as a head coach in the American League than Mike Yeo has now," said Bylsma, who coached 54 games in Wilkes-Barre before he replaced Therrien in 2009. "So do I think he has enough experience? No question at all.

"Is that the right fit for Minnesota right now? That's a different question. But I'm not sure I want to coach against Mike Yeo if he's in the National Hockey League."

Bylsma will now have to.

Yeo's task will be to take a middle-of-the-road franchise with an increasingly frustrated fan base and steer it back on track. The Wild's missed the postseason for three straight seasons (two under the Fletcher regime) and five of the past seven.

One question regarding Yeo's hiring is how it affects the Wild's coaching staff. The Wild currently has vacancies for one assistant coach and one video coach, but the contracts for assistant coach Darby Hendrickson, goalie coach Bob Mason and strength coach Chris Pietrzak-Wegner all expire June 30.

Assistant coach Rick Wilson, in charge of the defensemen, has one year left on his deal and it would be surprising if Fletcher doesn't ensure he's kept on. The other question is who takes over Houston. Assistant coach Darryl Sydor or John Torchetti could be candidates.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tennessee 7:25 PM
Jacksonville
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Atlanta 127 FINAL
Cleveland 98
Phoenix 111 FINAL
Charlotte 106
Dallas 117 FINAL
Detroit 106
Utah 105 FINAL
Miami 87
Orlando 92 FINAL
Boston 109
Brooklyn 89 FINAL
Toronto 105
Memphis 117 FINAL
San Antonio 116
Milwaukee 97 FINAL
Portland 104
Houston 115 FINAL
Denver 111
Indiana 100 FINAL
LA Clippers 102
Ottawa 2 FINAL
New Jersey 0
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 2
Dallas 2 FINAL
Vancouver 0
Langston 65 FINAL
North Texas 78
Delaware State 72 FINAL
St Francis-NY 64
James Madison 72 FINAL
Ball State 52
SIU Edwardsville 65 FINAL
Campbell 70
St Francis-PA 67 FINAL
Duquesne 52
North Florida 77 FINAL
Florida State 93
Catawba 69 FINAL
George Mason 99
Ferrum 48 FINAL
High Point 106
Hampton 55 FINAL
Illinois 73
Gardner-Webb 65 FINAL
Jacksonville 68
Longwood 60 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 71
Arkansas State 69 FINAL
Miss State 55
Tennessee 72 FINAL
NC State 83
NC A&T 55 FINAL
Ohio State 97
Manhattan 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 65
Robert Morris 57 FINAL
Toledo 83
Char Southern 58 FINAL
Wofford 64
Kennesaw St 90 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
Barber-Scotia 52 FINAL
NC Central 108
Detroit 70 FINAL
UCF 75
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 73
TX A&M-CC 73 FINAL
Denver 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 61 FINAL
Houston 56
UT Martin 54 FINAL
Illinois State 64
Milligan 76 FINAL
Louisiana 115
Abilene Christian 44 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 83
USC Upstate 73 FINAL
Memphis 83
Alcorn State 56 FINAL
Murray State 94
Central Mich 80 FINAL
Northwestern 67
Georgia State 54 FINAL
Old Dominion 58
TX-Pan American 69 FINAL
Saint Louis 75
Ill-Chicago 46 FINAL
SMU 67
Texas State 60 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 66
SC State 39 FINAL
Texas Tech 101
Missouri State 70 FINAL
Tulsa 74
Chicago State 60 FINAL
Western Ky 75
Morehead State 50 FINAL
Green Bay 66
Northern Colorado 82 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 92
Winthrop 62 FINAL
Auburn 80
New Mexico St 55 FINAL
Baylor 66
San Diego St 62 FINAL
Cincinnati 71
Eastern Mich 46 FINAL
Michigan State 66
Loyola Marymount 58 FINAL
Stanford 67
Incarnate Word 82 FINAL
Grand Canyon 80
Northeastern 58 FINAL
Cal Poly 60
Central Arkansas 55 FINAL
New Mexico 76
Howard 45 FINAL
Pepperdine 53
Portland 73 FINAL
UNLV 75
CS-Northridge 56 FINAL
Oregon 79
Grambling St 38 FINAL
Washington 86
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Western Carolina 79 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 66
(21) Miss State 66 FINAL
Louisiana 51
(25) DePaul 109 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 84
Liberty 64 FINAL
NC State 67
Elon 77 FINAL
Campbell 51
Akron 73 FINAL
UCF 64
Richmond 77 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 67
Montana 70 FINAL
Seattle 64
(7) Stanford 46 FINAL
Chattanooga 54
Florida A&M 69 FINAL
Southern U 80
Oklahoma 72 FINAL
(13) Duke 92
Savannah State 56 FINAL
Auburn 62
Northern Colorado 43 FINAL
South Florida 84
Youngstown St 73 FINAL
Robert Morris 65
Siena 75 FINAL
Sacred Heart 65
Vermont 63 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
(1) South Carolina 69 FINAL
Hampton 49
Fla Gulf Coast 91 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 46
Texas Southern 92 FINAL
Houston Baptist 80
Northwestern 88 FINAL
UNLV 84
NC A&T 70 FINAL
Appalachian St 72
NC Central 52 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 67
Drexel 50 FINAL
Quinnipiac 74
Cincinnati 52 FINAL
Northern Ky 66
Alabama State 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 77
Morehead St 69 FINAL
USC Upstate 75
Arkansas State 59 FINAL
Kent State 44
American Univ 60 FINAL
Manhattan 52
UNC Greensboro 60 FINAL
St Bonaventure 78
Arkansas-Monticello 56 FINAL
Northwestern St 61
Prairie View 70 FINAL
Sam Houston St 51
McNeese State 59 FINAL
(3) Texas 76
Yale 90 FINAL
Wagner 65
Oakland 61 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 54
Eastern Kentucky 62 FINAL
Alabama A&M 56
SIU-Edwardsville 47 FINAL
Northern Ill 69
McMurry 25 FINAL
TX-Arlington 82
Portland 65 FINAL
Eastern Washington 72
North Texas 42 FINAL
San Francisco 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite pro sports coach in the Twin Cities?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close