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Torchetti ready, eager to take over Wild

Interim coach preaches accountability in first address with players

by Dan Myers / Correspondent

John Torchetti on Opportunity

John Torchetti on Opportunity - 2/14/16

John Torchetti spoke with the media about the opportunity given to him as interim coach of the Minnesota Wild

  • 01:05 •

EDINA, Minn. -- John Torchetti was introduced as interim coach of the Minnesota Wild on Sunday, one day after Mike Yeo was fired. 

Torchetti will work his first game behind Minnesota's bench at the Vancouver Canucks on Monday (10 p.m. ET; FS-N, FS-WI, SNP, NHL.TV).

"I'm very excited about the opportunity," Torchetti said. "I met with the players today; it was a good talk, and I'm very excited about getting to work with them and moving forward. I'm looking forward to [Monday] night's game." 

Torchetti arrived to the Twin Cities on Sunday, about 12 hours after the completion of his final game as coach of the Wild's American Hockey League affiliate in Iowa. The Wild had their first practice of the Torchetti era Sunday without their new coach on the ice. Assistant coaches Rick Wilson, Andrew Brunette, Darryl Sydor, Darby Hendrickson and Bob Mason -- all holdovers from Yeo's staff -- ran the on-ice portion. 

Torchetti addressed the team before practice and said his goal is to meet with each player individually before Monday, the first of a three-game road trip to Western Canada. His message, he said, was simple. 

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"Just making sure that we understand we all have got to be accountable to play hard and compete and win our battles every night," Torchetti said. "[I'm] looking forward to seeing that [Monday] night." 

The Wild have lost eight straight and 13 of their past 14. They are 23-22-10, sixth in the Central Division and five points out of the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. 

Yeo was fired after the 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday. 

"Clearly when you let somebody go, there's a tendency to point the finger at him," general manager Chuck Fletcher said. "But where we're at resides with all of us, starting with me, with the players, with the leadership group, with everybody. We all need to be better and that's the goal going forward." 

Torchetti, 51, will begin his third stint as an interim head coach in the NHL after serving as Iowa's coach since Nov. 11, 2014. He was interim coach of the Florida Panthers (2003-04; 27 games) and Los Angeles Kings (2005-06; 12 games). He was an assistant with the Atlanta Thrashers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Chicago Blackhawks, with whom he won the Stanley Cup in 2010. 

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Torchetti is familiar with Minnesota's roster. He coached 12 current members of the Wild between his run the past two seasons in Iowa and his first stint with the organization as coach of Minnesota's then-AHL affiliate, the Houston Aeros, from 2011-13. 

Iowa (15-29-6) has the second-worst record in the AHL, but is 10-7-3 in its past 20 games. 

"It took a while to get our culture going. We had to get some players dialed in and the accountability within the room," Torchetti said. "To me, I can say the message but what is it backed up with when I leave the room? I think that moving forward, that's the No. 1 thing to me." 

Yeo, 42, had been Minnesota's coach since 2011-12 and was 173-132-44. The Wild reached the playoffs the past three seasons and were eliminated in the Western Conference Second Round by the Chicago Blackhawks the past two seasons. Minnesota was 46-28-8 last season, the second-most wins and points in its history. 

"Mike is a very good coach, a great person obviously, but he's done a lot for this franchise. We've won playoff rounds with Mike," Fletcher said. "We're one of the very few teams in the League that have made it to the second round in consecutive years. I believe it's five teams. He deserves a lot of credit for really stabilizing this franchise after we brought him in." 

This was Yeo's first NHL job as head coach. He won the 2009 Stanley Cup as an assistant coach on Dan Bylsma's staff with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Yeo was the youngest coach in the League when he was hired in June 2011 to replace Todd Richards as the third coach in Wild history.

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