WOODBURY, Minn. — Mike Yeo took some time to recover from the emotion of being fired as the Minnesota Wild head coach. He has good memories of his four-plus seasons with the team.
He also looks forward to continuing his coaching career.
Yeo met with reporters Wednesday for the first time since being fired on Feb. 13 and replaced by John Torchetti. Yeo said he wasn’t prepared for the feelings of being let go, and the significance didn’t sink in until a few days later.
“The bad feelings have turned to good memories, and realizing what a great experience it’s been for me; the joy of it, just the everyday life, not just coaching but living here,” Yeo said. “Regrets? Initially I had a lot of regrets and I would say that my regrets have turned into knowledge and lessons for the future. So, no, I don’t regret anything.
“Are there things I would do differently? Absolutely, and I’m fairly confident I will get a chance to do that.”
The Wild dropped 13 of their final 14 games under Yeo, and his tenure ended after a 4-2 home loss to Boston. General manager Chuck Fletcher fired Yeo after the game when the two had a lengthy conversation in the coach’s office.
Yeo had never been fired or traded throughout his playing and coaching career. He wasn’t surprised by the change, though, and even mentioned to his assistant coaches after the game that something was bound to happen.
“Brutal would probably be the worst way to put it, the most honest way to put it,” Yeo said. “I’ve never been through this. You put your heart and soul into something, and yeah, it was tough.”
Yeo had led the team through midseason struggles before and took the Wild to the playoffs each of the past three seasons.
Last season, the Wild traded for goaltender Devan Dubnyk and went 26-8-2 the rest of the way to surge into the playoffs and finish with the franchise’s second-best record ever.
The team couldn’t turn the tide this season, and Yeo believes trade rumours in January started to wear on young players.
“I just felt like at that time, our mind started to drift and we started to get away a little bit from our game,” Yeo said. “And we got away a little bit, that’s when players started to struggle individually. We went through some major, major individual slumps. For me, that was the beginning of the end for me.”
Yeo went 173-132-44 with Minnesota and was the league’s third youngest coach when he was fired.
Yeo said he wants to coach again and believes he will have opportunities.
For now, he’s focused on spending time with his family, including watching his son play in the state section semifinal game this week. Yeo said he might also take on some analyst work.
“I want to coach,” Yeo said. “That’s in my blood. That’s who I am and I really believe my best days as a coach are ahead of me.”