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Struggling Wild fire Evason as coach, hire Hynes

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Published in Hockey
Monday, 27 November 2023 15:39

The Minnesota Wild on Monday fired coach Dean Evason after a disastrous start to their season.

John Hynes, who previously coached the Nashville Predators and the New Jersey Devils, will take over as coach, an NHL source confirmed to ESPN.

Evason and assistant coach Bob Woods were both let go. The Wild are 5-10-4 (14 points) and are mired in a seven-game winless streak. They have only four regulation wins this season, tied for second fewest in the NHL.

"Dean did an excellent job during his tenure with the Minnesota Wild, especially as head coach of our team," Wild general manager Bill Guerin said. "I am very thankful for his hard work and dedication to our organization."

Evason was in his fifth season as Wild head coach, having been hired with 12 games left in the regular season in 2019-20. He had a record of 147-77-27.

Minnesota made the postseason in all four of his previous seasons but failed to win a playoff round, including a qualification-round loss in the 2019-20 pandemic-shortened season that featured a 24-team playoff field.

The Wild were 22nd in the NHL in goals per game (2.95) entering Monday night. They've watched key offensive players like forwards Matt Boldy (1 goal in 12 games) and Kirill Kaprizov (6 goals in 19 games) fall short of previous production levels.

Minnesota is the second-worst defensive team in the NHL (3.95 goals against per game) after finishing sixth in that category last season. The biggest factor has been goaltending, as Filip Gustavsson (.881 save percentage) and Marc-Andre Fleury (.875) have both played well below expectations.

The Wild are currently seven points out of a playoff seed.

Hynes was fired by the Predators in May after four seasons in Nashville. He was head coach of the Devils for five seasons. Hynes' teams have qualified for the playoffs four times but have failed to win a playoff round. He was a candidate for the New York Rangers' coaching opening that eventually went to Peter Laviolette.

Hynes has a long history with two of the Wild's top executives. Guerin was his general manager when Hynes coached AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with the Pittsburgh Penguins organization. He was also hired as Devils head coach by Ray Shero, who is now a senior adviser for the Wild.

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