It has been a disappointing season in Minnesota, with one big change already being made when Jason Zucker was traded to Pittsburgh. Another has come with the team announcing (Twitter link) that head coach Bruce Boudreau has been relieved of his duties. Assistant coach Dean Evason is expected to take over on an interim basis, reports Michael Russo of The Athletic (via Twitter).
The Wild currently sit in a tie for fifth place in the Central Division with Nashville and are three points out of the final wild-card spot in the ultra-tight Western Conference. If they fail to make the playoffs, it’ll be the second straight year that they miss after six straight appearances from 2012-13 through 2017-18.
Boudreau was in his fourth season with the team, with Minnesota playing to a 158-110-35 record under his guidance. That’s the 12th-best points percentage in the league since 2016 when he took over. The Wild made the playoffs in the first two seasons but lost in the first round both times. The timing of the change comes after Minnesota blew a 3-1 lead against the Rangers on Thursday night, but the Wild are still 6-3-1 in their last 10 games.
Boudreau’s contractual situation is also worth noting. As Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic notes (Twitter link), Boudreau was in the final year of his deal as head coach with two more years left on his contract after that in a consulting role. From Guerin’s point of view, once he fully decided that Boudreau wouldn’t be kept on as coach following the season, making the move now makes sense even if it comes just 10 days before the trade deadline.
Boudreau has twice been fired but hasn’t stayed on the market for long. It took just two days for him to go from Washington to Anaheim in 2011-12 and only a week to go from the Ducks to the Wild in 2016, although that move came after the season. Considering the frequency of coaching changes this season – this is No. 8 – it’s certainly possible that his time on the market could be short-lived once again.
As for Evason, this will be his first head coaching job at the NHL level. He’s in his second year behind the bench as an assistant with Minnesota ,but before that he spent six seasons as the bench boss with AHL Milwaukee. TSN’s Darren Dreger notes (Twitter link) that the job is expected to be his for the remainder of the season with a permanent hire to come in the offseason.