What does NHL stoppage mean for interim Wild coach Dean Evason?
ST. PAUL — Like everyone else in the NHL, the only thing Wild interim coach Dean Evason can do is hope that the 2019-20 season resumes at some point.
It’s likely his only chance at shedding the interim tag when general manager Bill Guerin makes his decision on his new head coach this offseason.
“I feel for him,” Guerin said. “I feel for everybody. There are some guys, like (Washington Capitals forward) Alex Ovechkin, on the brink of another 50-goal season. There are other guys that are a little bit older chasing a Stanley Cup maybe for the last time. There are so many guys in the NHL that are impact by this.”
None more than Evason.
While the 55-year-old coach had the Wild firing on all cylinders when the NHL decided to indefinitely suspend its season last week because of the coronavirus pandemic, the sample size is simply too small to justify handing the reins over to him on a permanent basis.
With no head coaching experience under his belt at the NHL level, Evason took over for former coach Bruce Boudreau on Feb. 14 knowing it likely would take a playoff run to convince the front office that he is the man for the job.
Maybe the worst part about the work stoppage is that the Wild (35-27-7, 77 points) seemed to be poised to chase down the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 12 games left on the schedule.
Not only did Evason boasts a 8-4-0 record as head coach, the Wild genuinely seem to enjoy playing for him.
Even so, that likely won’t be enough to tip the scales if this doesn’t start up again.
Not with other veteran coaches like Gerard Gallant, Peter Laviolette, and Doug Weight, among others, available to Guerin in the offseason. Plus, the Wild GM already has said he plans to do an expansive coaching search this offseason.
And yet, Guerin had nothing but praise for Evason when asked about him earlier this week.
“He’s done a great job,” Guerin said. “He’s got great communication skills. He communicates with the players really, really well. Everybody has clarity in their role and the game plan and what he expects of them. And if somebody isn’t carrying their weight, he can communicate that to them in a good way. He’s been really good for us.”
It’s also telling, though not surprising, that Guerin refused to commit to Evason as his guy moving forward.
“These are tough situations for everyone with everything going on,” Guerin said. “But there’s really nothing we can do.”