When the Wild hired Bruce Boudreau as head coach in 2016, it seemed like the absolute perfect marriage of coach and team — except for in the single most critical way, where it seemed like a disappointment waiting to happen.
The Wild had already been in the playoffs four consecutive seasons at that point, reaching the second round twice under Mike Yeo, and it was reasonable to think that a coaching upgrade might catapult the franchise on a deeper playoff run in a quest for its first Stanley Cup title.
But the only reason Boudreau was even available for hire was that he was coming off another crushing playoff loss with Anaheim, moving his all-time playoff record in Game 7s to a ghastly 1-7. So the team trying to get over the hump hired the coach who couldn't get over the hump. They were either going to do it together, or continue to write a frustrating history in tandem.
And we know what happened.
Boudreau guided the Wild to its highest point total (106) in franchise history and home ice in the opening playoff series against St. Louis in his first season … only to watch Minnesota fall flat in a 4-1 series loss. Next year? Another 100-point season, another quick five-game exit — this time to the favored Jets.
Then the GM who hired him (Chuck Fletcher) was fired, the Wild slumped in 2018-19 to last place in its division, and the news that arrived Friday started to feel like an inevitability.
Indeed, the only thing that felt strange about it in the end was the timing. The Wild had gone 7-3-1 in its previous 11 games before Boudreau was fired and replaced by interim Dean Evason.
But it makes sense if you think of it this way: This year's Wild under Boudreau was never going to be more than a fringe contender for a low playoff seed. The switch to Evason has the chance, at least in theory, to spark a run. Or it could plunge Minnesota to new depths, providing GM Bill Guerin all the clarity he needs to make more deadline moves.
Either way: definitive. Getting shut out Saturday at home by a bad Western Conference team playing on short rest and shorthanded is a nudge in the plunge-to-new-depths direction, even as a small sample size.
In the end, Boudreau leaves about like he arrived: as a really good coach in the regular season who contributed to his own demise with poor playoff showings, even if it wasn't all his fault.
And since you can't fire all the players (unless you're the Timberwolves), this is what happens.
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Guerin, by the way, is an interesting counterweight to a lot of other local sports executives in his approach. "If players are hurt by this, then maybe they're not the players that we should have here," he said after Boudreau was fired, which is about as old-school as it gets when it comes to feelings.
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You never write the book about a season until it is officially over, but the chapter on Sunday's loss to Iowa figures to require some heavy underlining in a month or so when it comes to how it defined the Gophers men's basketball season.
Holding a 55-47 lead with 5:25 to play, then going scoreless while the Hawkeyes embark on a closing 11-0 run to steal the game … yeah, that's going to hurt a team that was already on the outside of the NCAA tournament picture looking in.