Scoggins: Yeo remaining calm amid the playoff storm

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 29, 2014 - 7:40 AM

The Wild coach is displaying some newfound maturity that should help him keep his job.

Mike Yeo stepped to the podium Monday morning with a piece of paper in hand. He couldn’t resist a chance to engage in some self- deprecating humor.

“I pulled that trick out once,” he said with a wry smile.

That joke was in reference to Yeo’s mini-rant late in the season when, in an attempt to calm growing anxiety as his team scuffled along, the Wild coach scribbled down some favorable statistics on a piece of paper and relayed them during a tense postgame news conference.

That Yeo was able to appear so relaxed hours before the most important game in his Wild tenure reflected his temperament throughout an emotional and combative playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche.

The guy has been a cool customer at every twist and turn, unburdened by his looming contract expiration or the pressure of a playoff series. The present, he said, is all that matters, and right now that singular focus rests with a Game 7 after the Wild extended this series to a decisive game with a 5-2 victory Monday night.

“When you’re under the gun, you want your group to look at you and say, ‘OK, he’s calm, then we’re calm,’ ” Yeo said. “That calmness should come from confidence. That’s what’s allowed me to not panic.”

Yeo’s contract expires at season’s end, and there have been no hints or indications from Wild owner Craig Leipold and General Manager Chuck Fletcher as to their thinking.

One working theory is that the Wild needed to win a playoff series for Yeo to feel completely safe. But given the way Yeo has managed his team in this series, it’s hard to imagine that his status should rest on the outcome of Game 7.

Yeo has been a picture of calm all series and seems more comfortable in his role as a leader, as the person who sets the agenda, regardless of circumstance.

The organization’s brain trust should take note of the maturity that Yeo has displayed in this series, in terms of his strategy and ability to make adjustments, but more important, in his confident tone in response to difficult situations.

Yeo has revealed a deft touch in the face of adversity and refused to allow his players to wallow in self-pity, particularly after an excruciating loss in Game 5.

Yeo could’ve stormed into his news conference with steam rising off his bald head. He could have melted down on the officiating errors that undermined his team at the worst possible time.

Instead, Yeo lowered the temperature and continued to push that narrative leading into Game 6. He refused to shift responsibility or blame elsewhere. He pointed the finger at his team and noted that the Wild didn’t play well enough to win. His players, in turn, echoed that same sentiment.

Whether Yeo stewed privately didn’t matter. He made his point. Why obsess about something that is done and out of his control?

A coach’s job requires so much more than his ability to formulate a winning game plan. The good ones manage their message, muffle outside noise and keep the focus squarely on what’s important.

Yeo demonstrated some real savvy in that area after Game 5, and I’m not sure he would have reacted in the same manner last season, or the year prior. Or even early in this season. He just seems more in control of his emotions and the message he wants conveyed.

Almost every playoff series produces ebbs and flows, but this one has witnessed some sharp swings of momentum and emotion. Yeo has not looked overwhelmed at any step.

He pulled the right strings after his team choked away Game 1 and returned home with a 0-2 deficit. He switched goaltenders, benched veteran Kyle Brodziak and made a few critical tweaks to his lineup and defensive game plan after Colorado’s rookie sensation Nathan MacKinnon skated laps around the Wild the first two games.

In Game 6, he shuffled lines freely in search of the right combination to spark his team after a shorthanded goal staggered his players.

Yeo deserves his share of credit for this series reaching a Game 7. He has handled himself and his team admirably in the face of some tough situations. He looks like he’s matured as a coach. He looks comfortable on this stage.

Why mess with that?

 

Chip Scoggins • chip.scoggins@startribune.com

  • related content

  • Yeo in favor of coaches' challenges

    Tuesday April 29, 2014

    This offseason, when the coaches’ challenge debate is reintroduced in the NHL, Wild coach Mike Yeo said, “I’ll probably be in favor of it.”

  • Parise's two goals lift Wild past Colorado to force Game 7

    Tuesday April 29, 2014

    Zach Parise scored twice -- including the game-winner with 6:29 left in the third period -- as the Wild forced a seventh playoff game in Denver. The Wild scored two...

  • Video: Russo & Rand postgame: Wild force Game 7

    Tuesday April 29, 2014

    The Wild's next challenge is to figure out a way to win at Colorado.

  • One thing is for sure: Mike Yeo will coach at least one more game with the Wild, on Wednesday night in Game 7. Beyond that, nothing is guaranteed.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cleveland - LP: T. Bauer 1 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: A. Swarzak 3
Cincinnati - LP: M. Leake 1 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: K. Lohse 5
Kansas City - WP: W. Davis 2 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: Z. Putnam 1
Washington 2 Top 9th Inning
Colorado 6
NY Mets 3 Bottom 8th Inning
Seattle 0
Detroit 7 Top 8th Inning
Arizona 5
Los Angeles - D. Haren 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - F. Liriano
San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 6:05 PM
Philadelphia - A. Burnett
Texas - Y. Darvish 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - D. Phelps
Boston - C. Buchholz 6:07 PM
Toronto - R. Dickey
Miami - N. Eovaldi 6:10 PM
Atlanta - E. Santana
Tampa Bay - A. Cobb 6:15 PM
St. Louis - L. Lynn
San Diego - I. Kennedy 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - T. Wada
Houston - B. Peacock 9:05 PM
Oakland - J. Chavez
Baltimore - C. Tillman 9:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
Chicago 9:30 PM
San Jose
Calgary 7/24/14 8:00 PM
Edmonton
Winnipeg 7/25/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 7/26/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Toronto 7/26/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Winnipeg 7/31/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Connecticut 75 FINAL
Washington 89
New York 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
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: Which local pro team are you most excited about?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close