Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin on Friday announced the club has fired head coach Bruce Boudreau.
Boudreau had coached the team since the start of the 2016-17 season; the Wild made the playoffs in his first two seasons as bench boss and were bounced in the first round each time. Last season, Minnesota finished seven points out of a playoff spot. While the club sits just three points out of the Western Conference wild card this year (27-23-7, 61) Guerin and the front office felt it was time to part ways with Boudreau.
The Athletic’s Michael Russo first broke the story Friday morning and additionally reported that assistant coach Dean Evason will serve as the team’s interim head coach for the remainder of the regular season. After the season’s conclusion, Guerin said the franchise will conduct a search for a new head coach — a search that Evason will likely be included in.
“I would like to thank Bruce for his hard work and commitment to the Minnesota Wild during his tenure with the organization and wish him and his family the best in the future,” Guerin said in a statement.
Boudreau’s firing comes at an odd time for the Wild; the team is 6-3-1 in its last 10 games and could still make the playoffs if the team finishes strongly. But given that multiple Western Conference teams are still vying for a spot in the postseason with fired coaches this season (Vegas, Nashville), it’s not necessarily a sign that Minnesota’s front office thinks the season is lost.
In a press conference Friday, Guerin said he felt Minnesota’s players simply need a different voice right now as the team pushes toward a playoff spot.
“It’s not just one win, it’s not one loss, it’s not one week,” Guerin told reporters. “It’s a series of things. Even though Bruce and I have had a great relationship, I really enjoyed working with him, I learned a lot from him, I think he liked working with me. The most important thing is that the players are going into this stretch run on a high and I felt like they just needed a different voice right now.”
Evason, the club’s new interim head coach, played 13 NHL seasons between 1983-96 for five different franchises, most notably the Hartford Whalers organization. Minnesota hired Evason as an assistant to Boudreau in June 2018, after several years as the head coach of the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals, the Nashville Predators’ affiliate. He had also previously worked as an assistant coach in the Washington Capitals organization (2005-12) and as a head coach with three separate teams in in the Western Hockey League (1999-2005).
“This is not new to him,” Guerin said, referring to Evason’s NHL experience. “I know Dean has his own thoughts and beliefs and what he believes is going to give us success.”
According to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun, Boudreau was in the final year of his contract with the Wild and had a deal in place to serve as a consultant for the next two seasons.