Dean Evason has been in charge before, running teams in the minors and the junior-hockey ranks.
But Saturday was the first time he was overseeing an NHL team, and although he would have liked a better outcome than the Wild’s 2-0 loss to the Sharks, his experience behind the bench was still enjoyable.
“Once you get back in that spot when you’ve been there before, it feels right,” Evason said.
After he was announced as the team’s interim coach following the dismissal of Bruce Boudreau on Friday, Evason had just one practice to prepare the team for a new voice.
He didn’t scramble the lineup, keeping the forward lines the same and leaving Alex Stalock in goal — his third consecutive start and fifth over the past seven games. The only change Evason made was subbing Brad Hunt for Greg Pateryn on the third defensive pairing, continuing a rotation the team has had for the last week.
Tweaking, rather than a major systems overhaul, is Evason’s plan, and he already addressed an adjustment to the team’s neutral-zone play during Friday’s session. But with the Wild not playing its next game until Wednesday in Vancouver, Evason will now have more practice time.
“There’s not a whole lot that we’re going to do differently,” Evason said.
This was the first time the 55-year-old was at the helm since a six-season stint as coach of the Milwaukee Admirals in the American Hockey League, Evason’s last gig before joining the Wild as an assistant in 2018.
Evason also was a head coach in the Western Hockey League, where he embarked on coaching following a lengthy playing career.
“I thought Dean did a good job,” center Eric Staal said. “He was engaged and communicating with guys as far as what he wanted on certain plays throughout the game.”
The Wild is the eighth team to make an in-season switch at coach, but the other new faces around the league have had more time to settle in. Before Boudreau was let go, Gerard Gallant’s firing in Vegas on Jan. 15 was the most recent.
What can help Evason adapt, though, is the familiarity he already has with the team from being on staff since last season.
“The time of the year was weird,” winger Marcus Foligno said of the shuffle. “You expect coaching changes somewhat earlier just so you can give the guy that takes over a little bit more time to get comfortable, but we’re comfortable with Deano. He did a great job tonight with the bench and everything.”
The team recognized winger Zach Parise during a pregame ceremony for playing in his 1,000th game last Friday in Dallas.
After a video that included a clip of Parise’s late father, J.P. Parise — “I wasn’t expecting that,” Parise said — the organization presented Parise with a commemorative silver stick and crystal. He was also gifted a vacation and utility vehicle, and a $5,000 donation was made to Children’s Minnesota, where Parise is a title sponsor of a private patient room.
Parise was accompanied on the ice by his mother, Donna, wife, Alisha, and their three children. He and his father rank sixth all-time (1,893) in combined NHL games among fathers and sons. “It was awesome,” he said. “I thought they did a great job with the video.”
• Evander Kane was suspended three games for elbowing Winnipeg defenseman Neal Pionk on Friday, and the Sharks winger wasn’t happy. “A completely FLAWED system in so many ways,” Kane wrote on Twitter.
• San Jose defenseman Erik Karlsson will miss the rest of the season after breaking his left thumb Friday.