Wild slump puts additional pressure on GM, coach

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 31, 2013 - 1:03 AM

Loss to Islanders still stings, but GM Fletcher said, “It’s over.”

As Kyle Okposo of the Islanders celebrated his second goal in less than two minutes late in the third period Sunday night, Chuck Fletcher studied the replay intently.

The Wild general manager was flabbergasted that his team, which prides itself on defensive structure, could give up a go-ahead goal 27 seconds after tying a game in which it already had blown a three-goal lead.

The Wild would go on to its fifth consecutive loss, becoming the first opponent to allow the Islanders to rally to victory from three goals down in almost 20 years. The Islanders lost 380 consecutive games when trailing by at least three, an NHL record.

Yet Monday morning, it was business as usual at Wild practice. The Wild didn’t follow the Vikings’ lead and fire coach Mike Yeo. Fletcher didn’t trade any players, although he admitted he’s “constantly on the phone trying to make something happen.”

“No one likes to lose five games in a row, no one likes to lose the way we did [Sunday] night. Unfortunately these things happen,” Fletcher said. “The key is … you can’t bring that baggage into [Tuesday’s] St. Louis game. As painful as it is, it’s over.”

Yeo is in the last year of his contract. The Wild is 5-11-1 since losing in St. Louis on Nov. 25.

The Wild made the playoffs for the first time in five years last season, and owner Craig Leipold’s expectations are for his high-payroll team to build upon that. So Yeo is under enormous pressure to reverse this free-fall immediately. Three games remain on this homestand.

On Monday, Fletcher declined to answer when asked if Yeo’s job was safe. He knows how much scrutiny his coach is under.

“That’s always the reaction in sports,” Fletcher said. “I go back to, ‘Do you define your team based on five games or based on 36?’ If every time you have a five-game winning streak or a five-game losing streak you start to overreact either way, you’re going to be in trouble in this business.

“You’re going to have stretches where you lose games in every season, and we’re in one right now. We’ve got to get out of it. We have the personnel here — both coaches and players — that can get us out of it. If I can help out in any way, I’m going to try. Right now I think overreacting is not the right approach. We’ve got to show faith in this group.”

Yeo felt terrible for ousted Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, whom he has spent time shadowing in the past. “I do know he is a great human being,” Yeo said.

Return to form?

Asked about the disapproving eyes from critics focused on him, Yeo said: “Same as our team, same as everything else, I want our guys to look at me and say that’s how we’re going to deal with this. It’s adversity. That’s fine. But come to the rink the next day and you work a little harder.”

As for potential trades to shake things up, Fletcher says he has the cap space “where we could probably do something.”

“We think we have a pretty good plan in place where we want to be the next few years,” Fletcher said. “You have to have some patience, but if there’s an opportunity to get better, we certainly will as long as we’re not blowing up the blueprint we worked pretty hard to create over the last few years.”

Fletcher noted that “until five games ago, we were on pace for over 100 points and one of the top defensive teams in the league. … Right now, for whatever reason, we’ve gotten away from that. Right from the first shot on goal in the Pittsburgh game [Dec. 19], we seemed to have lost our confidence defensively, we seemed to have lost our ability to defend and play within the structure that we need to play.

“The challenge for the coaches and the players and for all of us is, ‘How do we get back to being who we are?’ We have to play with a certain identity. The last two games, we scored eight goals and we haven’t gotten a win. So to me, we just have to get back to who we are.”

Confidence shaken

The lasting effect of Sunday’s loss was evident in Monday’s practice. Yeo said it was “understandably not joyous and chipper.”

He said the shame of that defeat was that there were a lot of positive things to grab onto for a team lacking confidence, such as the four goals and 25 scoring chances the Wild generated. But “some new problems have crept in,” he said.

The Wild has allowed 24 goals during the five-game losing streak, and much of Monday’s practice surrounded defensive-zone coverage.

“All good teams go through these things, but they react the right way and they get better because of it,” Yeo said.

The Wild’s confidence has been so shattered, it’s almost waiting for bad things to happen.

“The further a losing streak goes, the harder it gets because the power of your mind is stronger than anything else in this game,” veteran Matt Cooke said. “Unless you’ve been taught to strengthen your mind in bad situations, then it festers.

“You have to guard against sitting on the fence waiting for someone to push you backward as opposed to leaning forward and making sure you don’t fall. We, as a group, need to be mentally tough. There’s no other option but to go out and have our best game of the year [Tuesday] night against St. Louis.”

  • related content

  • Video: Wild Minute: Pressure's on the Wild to turn things around

    Monday December 30, 2013

    The sinking Wild must recover from Sunday's awful loss. GM Chuck Fletcher did not give coach Mike Yeo a...

  • Wild-St. Louis game preview

    Monday December 30, 2013

    5 p.m. vs. St. Louis • Xcel Energy Center • FSN, 100.3-FMPreview: The Wild has lost five in a row,...

  • Jared Spurgeon and Wild goalie Josh Harding watched a Cal Clutterbuck shot find the net Sunday night in the Wild’s fifth loss in a row.

  • Wild defenseman Ryan Suter was left sprawled on the ice as Kyle Okposo (21) and the Islanders whooped it up on the Xcel ice Sunday night.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 17 FINAL
New England 9
Cleveland 10 FINAL
Baltimore 20
Dallas 44 FINAL
Washington 17
Indianapolis 27 FINAL
Tennessee 10
Jacksonville 17 FINAL
Houston 23
San Diego 7 FINAL
Kansas City 19
NY Jets 37 FINAL
Miami 24
Chicago 9 FINAL
Minnesota 13
Philadelphia 34 FINAL
NY Giants 26
New Orleans 23 FINAL
Tampa Bay 20
Carolina 34 FINAL
Atlanta 3
Detroit 20 FINAL
Green Bay 30
Oakland 14 FINAL
Denver 47
Arizona 17 FINAL
San Francisco 20
St. Louis 6 FINAL
Seattle 20
Cincinnati 10 2nd Qtr 3:52
Pittsburgh 17
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
TBA 1/4/15 2:00 AM
TBA
TBA 1/4/15 2:00 AM
TBA
Detroit 103 FINAL
Cleveland 80
Houston 106 FINAL
San Antonio 110
Oklahoma City 94 4th Qtr 7:24
Dallas 92
New York 22 2nd Qtr 9:56
Portland 40
Toronto 29 2nd Qtr 11:35
Denver 24
Phoenix 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Toronto 4 FINAL
Florida 6
Vancouver 1 2nd Prd :45
Anaheim 0
Tulane 57 FINAL
St Johns 82
Central Conn St 48 FINAL
Connecticut 81
Iona 81 FINAL
Drexel 62
Concordia (MI) 42 FINAL
Eastern Mich 100
Harvard 46 FINAL
Arizona State 56
Longwood 64 FINAL
Ball State 69
Sacred Heart 76 FINAL
Brown 79
Colgate 64 FINAL
Columbia 69
MD-Eastern Shore 78 FINAL
Duquesne 69
UNC Greensboro 50 FINAL
East Carolina 71
Marist 64 FINAL
Elon 69
NJIT 71 FINAL
Lafayette 76
Cincinnati Christian 58 FINAL
Liberty 78
Morgan State 53 FINAL
Marquette 81
Campbell 56 FINAL
Samford 65
Bucknell 71 FINAL
Siena 73
Long Beach State 67 FINAL
Syracuse 85
Coppin State 80 FINAL
Evansville 85
UMKC 73 FINAL
Indiana State 70
Hofstra 88 FINAL
Long Island 62
Coast Guard 48 FINAL
Army 93
Thomas (GA) 48 FINAL
High Point 85
Texas Southern 58 FINAL
Kansas State 56
Rutgers 59 FINAL
Monmouth 58
NC Wesleyan 54 FINAL
NC A&T 58
South Dakota St 63 FINAL
Northern Iowa 74
Central Penn College 69 FINAL
Radford 119
Bowling Green 79 FINAL
South Florida 70
Harris-Stowe 66 FINAL
SE Missouri St 94
Robert Morris-IL 56 FINAL
SIU Edwardsville 104
Northland College 59 FINAL
North Dakota St 83
Milwaukee 60 FINAL
South Dakota 84
Northwestern St 92 FINAL
Arkansas 100
Saint Peters 59 FINAL
Cornell 52
St Katherine 62 FINAL
Fresno State 93
Haskell 42 FINAL
Oral Roberts 94
Wake Forest 65 FINAL
Richmond 63
Fla Gulf Coast 57 FINAL
Xavier 71
SD Christian 45 FINAL
Northern Ariz 71
Judson 46 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 80
Ill-Chicago 60 FINAL
Bradley 68
Loyola-Maryland 61 FINAL
Fairfield 59
Miss Valley St 53 FINAL
Houston 80
Lehigh 58 FINAL
UMBC 55
Delaware State 56 FINAL
Temple 66
Belmont 56 FINAL
Butler 67
Howard 59 FINAL
Fordham 74
NW Christian 67 FINAL
Nevada 81
UC Davis 83 FINAL
Washington St 90
Abilene Christian 81 FINAL
Grand Canyon 83
UCLA 50 FINAL
Alabama 56
Stony Brook 48 2nd Half 5:16
Washington 55
Buffalo 50 2nd Half 3:34
Wisconsin 60
CS-Bakersfield 9:00 PM
California
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Penn State 31
(25) Nebraska 42 FINAL
(24) USC 45
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
Tennessee
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
Florida
Toledo 1/4/15 8:00 PM
Arkansas State
Drexel 71 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 54
Holy Cross 63 FINAL
Norfolk State 62
East Carolina 62 FINAL
South Florida 69
(10) Oregon State 63 FINAL
(8) Tennessee 74
Providence 51 FINAL
Boston College 79
Florida A&M 47 FINAL
Miami-Florida 83
Oakland 69 FINAL
Central Michigan 74
Chattanooga 59 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 49
Fairfield 59 FINAL
La Salle 73
St Francis-PA 59 FINAL
Pittsburgh 97
Milwaukee 72 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 78
Gardner-Webb 59 FINAL
Longwood 63
New Hampshire 58 FINAL
Manhattan 54
Bucknell 68 FINAL
Binghamton 57
Northeastern 70 FINAL
Albany 67
George Mason 70 FINAL
Towson 72
Richmond 59 FINAL
William & Mary 56
Tulane 60 FINAL
Cincinnati 50
North Florida 51 FINAL
Florida 63
(14) Georgia 51 FINAL
Seton Hall 70
Tennessee St 75 FINAL
(12) Kentucky 87
American Univ 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 77
Massachusetts 78 FINAL
Boston U 57
Quinnipiac 69 FINAL
Saint Josephs 67
Lafayette 49 FINAL
Saint Peters 34
Northwestern 61 FINAL
(20) Michigan State 57
Duquesne 82 FINAL
Lehigh 75
George Washington 72 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 49
(17) Rutgers 66 FINAL
Indiana 51
(24) Green Bay 66 FINAL
Dayton 72
Western Mich 55 FINAL
Stony Brook 59
Davidson 67 FINAL
Virginia 57
UNC Greensboro 61 FINAL
LSU 82
Denver 63 FINAL
North Texas 55
VA Commonwealth 63 FINAL
Coppin State 52
Huston-Tillotson 36 FINAL
Houston Baptist 86
Lamar 63 FINAL
Rice 97
Miss Valley St 40 FINAL
Alabama 71
Saint Louis 63 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 49
Middle Tennessee 98 FINAL
Tenn Tech 76
Penn State 52 FINAL
(23) Iowa 77
Purdue 62 FINAL
Illinois 55
DePaul 99 FINAL
Illinois State 62
Sam Houston St 46 FINAL
Wichita State 70
South Dakota 76 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 69
(4) Notre Dame 82 FINAL
UCLA 67
Coll of Charleston 51 FINAL
SC State 60
Alcorn State 53 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 63
Dartmouth 76 FINAL
Niagara 70
Colgate 68 FINAL
Siena 80
Michigan 53 FINAL
Wisconsin 63
Fla Gulf Coast 73 FINAL
CS-Northridge 64
Yale 51 FINAL
(25) Arizona State 69
UC Santa Barbara 34 FINAL
(16) Stanford 90
Long Island 63 FINAL
Long Beach St 71
Jackson State 56 FINAL
Louisiana 65
Eureka 50 FINAL
Western Ill 91
Cornell 59 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 76
Temple 24 2nd Half 18:38
Memphis 30
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