The Minnesota Wild are going to have coach Mike Yeo around a bit longer if reports are to be believed.
Michael Russo of The Star Tribune reports the Wild and Yeo are close to locking down a multiyear contract extension to keep him behind the bench in St. Paul.
Final details were being worked out Friday night, but all signs pointed toward an agreement soon, multiple sources said. Yeo, General Manager Chuck Fletcher and other members of the front office are due to leave for owner Craig Leipold’s home in the Bahamas on Saturday for meetings.
Yeo, 40, has been coach of the Wild for three seasons and two of those have seen the team in the playoffs. Each season has seen progression under his leadership as the team started hot but missed the postseason in his first year and advanced to the second round this season. The Wild have lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in the playoffs the past two seasons.
In three seasons, Yeo’s record is steady at 104-82-26 but it’s the improvements the team has made under him that has Wild leadership eager to keep him around.
While Thomas Vanek is busy trying to help the Montreal Canadiens win their first Stanley Cup since 1993, his impending unrestricted free agency this summer is there tantalizing some teams.
Columnist Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press said Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold will be there waiting for Vanek on July 1 and they won’t be shy about going all-in for him.
“This summer, look for Leipold, the Wild owner, to spend whatever it takes — probably another $40 million or so — to add free agent Thomas Vanek to the roster.”
Vanek, 30, will be cashing in in a big way from someone when he hits free agency. The Wild have long been considered a front-runner to sign him because of his history in Minnesota. Vanek won a national championship at the University of Minnesota in 2003 and his family is from there.
The Wild will have at least one big contract off the books this summer as Dany Heatley’s $7.5 million cap hit is gone after this season. That frees up a big chunk of change to bring in Vanek or anyone else they might desire.
This is the first time Vanek has reached unrestricted free agency in his career and after numerous seasons of big offense with the Buffalo Sabres, he’s shown the New York Islanders and Canadiens he can do it anywhere.
Minnesota’s Zach Parise hasn’t been one to shy away from speaking his mind during the lockout. He’s called out Gary Bettman and spoken freely about blaming the owners, except his own of course.
After seeing talks fall apart on Thursday, many have been saying how it could ruin talks the rest of the way and kill the season. Parise tells Michael Russo of The Star-Tribune he isn’t buying that at all.
“I don’t think it’s as dramatic as everyone’s trying to make it,” Parise said. “I don’t know the ins and outs of everything. But we have an agreement on a lot of things, I mean, a lot of things. There are still one or two things that need to be talked about, and in my eyes that’s not a total derailment of a negotiation. I think people are being a little dramatic thinking this is Doomsday, which I don’t believe.”
People being dramatic during the lockout? No way…
Truth here is Parise’s right. Thursday’s very public blowup feels almost like it was all for show but both sides are closer than they were before they hunkered down to meet for three days. Time will tell if that’s actually true or not, but both sides clearly need to play this season.