It’s been roughly two weeks since the Wild fired head coach Mike Yeo and now, for the first time since being dismissed, Yeo has spoken about his time with the club.
It’s an interesting discussion, to say the least.
Arguably the most intriguing topic was the looming presence of former Washington head coach Adam Oates, who was working with Zach Parise as an individual skills coach (Oates also gave Parise and Ryan Suter power play tips during training camp.)
In his “meaty” blog, the Star-Tribune’s Mike Russo noted that Oates showed up at a Wild morning skate in January.
So he asked Yeo about it:
When you say things never felt right, did this start with the Adam Oates stuff? “Yeah. I thought we dealt with it. We talked with Zach, and we had no issues with it after that. And talked with some players, and … Whether it’s something like that, whether it’s the trade rumors, whatever it is, when there’s things that might cause a little unrest, they kind of sit there and they hang out. When things are going well, they’re forgotten and pushed to the side. But when things don’t go well, quite often they come back.”
Did it bother you that Oates came to the Buffalo morning skate? That was at the start of the tailspin? “I’m not going to even comment on it. But I would say, that I would not do the same thing.”
For clarity’s sake, it’s tough to gauge the context of that last quote — whether Yeo was referring to Parise (for having Oates at the skate), or Oates (for going to the skate). But either way, it’s obvious Yeo took issue with it.
And here’s where things get tricky.
Oates has developed a positive reputation across the league for his one-on-one coaching acumen — Scott Gomez said “that guy brought me back from the dead,” and credited Oates for him landing a contract in St. Louis.
Gomez also revealed that a number of high-profile players are utilizing Oates’ expertise as a personal consultant, including Alex Ovechkin and Steve Stamkos.
So in that regard, working with the likes of Parise and Suter isn’t abnormal.
Thing is, Minnesota wasn’t a normal situation.
Yeo had been on and off the hot seat since last season, and Oates is on record saying he wants to be an NHL head coach again. There was also that very awkward time back in late November when Suter — an Oates guy, don’t forget — ripped into Yeo and the coaching staff, saying “I don’t know what they’re thinking.”
And if you want to read deeper into the Oates/Parise/Suter dynamic, consider what Yeo said about the Wild locker room.
“It just felt like there were almost two groups,” he explained. “There were younger guys and there were the older guys. It wasn’t just a group.”
The oldest guy in Minnesota is Jason Pominville, who’s 33.
Parise and Suter are 31.