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Wild coach delivers profanity-laced tirade, leaves practice early

ST. PAUL - The second time Mike Yeo halted Wild practice Wednesday morning, the coach lost it. With his team gathered in front of him along the red line, Yeo slammed his stick against the ice and went on a profanity-laced tirade about poor play o...

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Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo left the team’s practice after delivering a rant filled with profanities on Wednesday in St. Paul. USA Today Sports

ST. PAUL – The second time Mike Yeo halted Wild practice Wednesday morning, the coach lost it.

With his team gathered in front of him along the red line, Yeo slammed his stick against the ice and went on a profanity-laced tirade about poor play of late. He made it clear that goaltending isn’t the only issue facing the Wild. He said players “pointing the finger” are emblematic of a “loser’s mentality.”

With a red face, he unleashed 30 expletives in 90 seconds, furious that the players had the audacity to “practice like this” after losing eight of their past 10 games. After the address, he skated toward the bench and snapped his white stick into two pieces, a final exclamation before leaving practice early.

On an eventful morning, Yeo fired a resounding message to his club that the free fall they’re mired in must stop.

It was the loudest and strongest message Yeo has given his team publicly since he took over the Wild three years ago.

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“We weren’t good enough,” Yeo said in explaining his rant. “And we’re not in a position where we can come in and be, let alone decent in practice, bad at practice. I’m not going to accept that.”

Yeo has lit into his team before, both publicly and behind closed doors.

But this one felt like a final attempt, the strongest yet, at kicking the Wild into progress.

If the Wild still don’t respond after the coach went on a public tirade like Wednesday’s, what would they respond to?

That’s the fear in Yeo’s emotional tactic: that it might be a final straw if the losing continues.

“I’m not worried about that,” Yeo said. “I told you I’m not going to accept that (kind of practice). … We lost the (last) game. We come to the rink today and, what, are we going to have a practice like that? That’s not good enough.

“I know one thing: we can hang our heads, we can feel sorry for ourselves, we can point fingers, we can do whatever we want. But those types of things are not the types of things that winners do, and those types of things do not help you get out of something like this. I know what I’m going to control, and I’m going to make sure that I bring it.”

Practices in the NHL are open to the media, and anytime a rant like this is conducted, the coach is aware of who is watching.

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In December, Yeo lit into his team during a practice in Arizona. But during his tenure with the Wild, he’s never been so disgusted that he left practice early.

“I think Yeo finally lost it here,” left winger Thomas Vanek said. “He’s been pretty good with us, staying upbeat. We played well (in a 4-3 overtime loss to San Jose on Tuesday) night. But it’s not good when you lose hockey games. That was his message. He didn’t like how some of us practiced and came out (and said it). Those things happen.”

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