Wednesday was a double-edged sword kind of day for Mike Yeo.
The Minnesota head coach decided to split up his top line of Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley — a move designed to balance out his forward units, but a potentially dangerous one given, you know, that line is the only one producing.
Rookie Charlie Coyle has been promoted to play right wing alongside Parise and Koivu while Heatley has been dropped to the second line with center Matt Cullen and left wing Pierre-Marc Bouchard.
“I think he’ll fit in really well with us,” Parise said of Coyle. “And you get Butch with Heatley, he should be a good setup man for Heater.”
Heatley has been the weak link of the top line for the last few contests — one goal and eight shots in his last six games — so it’s not surprising Yeo decided to move him. Parise’s been on fire (6G-4A-10PTS) and Koivu’s nearly a point-a-game player (2G-6A-8PTS), meaning they’ll stay put.
Heatley said he’s not worried about the “demotion” and is looking forward to playing with Cullen and Bouchard.
“I don’t feel like I’m fighting it,” he explained. “I’m playing with two real creative guys, so hopefully we can get something done.”
However this shakes out, it’s clear Yeo needs to do something to get some production outside of his big three.
The Wild’s fourth- and fifth-leading scorers are defensemen (Tom Gilbert, Ryan Suter) while Cullen, Mikael Granlund, Cal Clutterbuck, Devin Setoguchi and Torrey Mitchell have combined to score just three goals thus far.
Video: PHT Extra — Who’s on the hot seat?
Wild hold player-only meeting after yet another road loss
The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.
Kings GM Dean Lombardi ranks among the NHL’s most outspoken executives. Even so, his discussion of what he calls Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.
“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”
Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:
- He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
- Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.” (Bold claim: the production part was probably the bigger sticking point.)
- The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.
Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the Lombardi and the Kings handled the situation.
Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?
Despite owning two Stanley Cup rings, there are a healthy number of people who aren’t wild about Jonathan Quick.
Those people might feel validated through the Los Angeles Kings’ first two games, as he followed a rough loss to the San Jose Sharks with a true stinker against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.
Sometimes a goalie has a bad night stats-wise, yet his team is as much to blame as anything else. You can probably pin this one on Quick, who allowed four goals on just 14 shots through the first two periods.
Things died down in the final frame, but let’s face it; slowing things down is absolutely the Coyotes’ design with a 4-1 lead (which ultimately resulted in a 4-1 win).
A soft 1-0 goal turned out to be a sign of things to come:
Many expected the Kings to roar into this second game after laying an egg in their opener. Instead, the Coyotes exploited Quick’s struggles for a confidence-booster, which included key prospect Max Domi scoring a goal and an assist.
It’s worth mentioning that Mike Smith looked downright fantastic at times, only drawing more attention to Quick’s struggles.
After a troubled summer and a failed 2014-15 season, Los Angeles was likely eager to start things off the right way.
Instead, they instead will likely focus on the fact that they merely dropped two (ugly) games.