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Round 1

Mike Yeo gets no extra satisfaction eliminating Wild

Blues coach, fired by Minnesota in 2016, just happy to advance to second round

by Louie Korac / NHL.com Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- St. Louis Blues coach Mike Yeo insisted before the start of the Western Conference First Round series against the Minnesota Wild that it wasn't about him.

After knocking his former team out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 4-3 overtime victory in Game 5, Yeo maintained the same stance.

"It's not about me and that's what I've said," said Yeo, who was fired by the Wild on Feb. 13, 2016 after 4½ seasons. "I've been sincere when I've said that. I don't think that what I'm feeling right now would be any different if it was any other team. 

"Our goal is to advance in the playoffs, and obviously it's a little bit of irony in it, that I'm facing my former team. But our goal was to advance in the playoffs and for our group to continue to grow and have a chance to keep competing for a Stanley Cup, and that's what we have right now."

 

[RELATED: Complete Blues vs. Wild series coverage]

 

Yeo received several handshakes from Wild players, was congratulated by Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher in Fletcher's office, and several Wild staff members shook Yeo's hand and gave him a hug.

"Very nice," Yeo said. "Yeah, I've got a lot of time and a lot of respect from everybody here, from top to bottom, players, coaches, management, everything. It's a first-class group and I'm sure that we'll be seeing more of each other down the road."

Yeo was 173-132-44 with three playoff appearances with Minnesota. Since he replaced Ken Hitchcock on Feb. 1, the Blues are 26-9-2, including 4-1 in the playoffs.

"He held it together as a coach," St. Louis forward Scottie Upshall said. "He's done a great job with our group, him and the coaching staff have a really good approach to the way they lead us. He kept his composure … this is big for him, although he made it clear that it wasn't about him, I'm sure right now he's enjoying a cold one thinking that was a hell of a series."

This after Yeo said the Blues at one point hit rock bottom when they were 24-21-5 and fired Hitchcock.

"When you hit rock bottom you have to force yourself to look in the mirror and that's what we did," said Yeo, who was an associate coach scheduled to repalce Hitchcock next season. "We got to a point where we were playing games that were so meaningful night after night, and regardless of our opponent we didn't have any choice but to build the right type of game, a game that we knew that we could take into the playoffs and a game that we could have confidence with. 

"It certainly was not pretty all the time. I think we have to get better as a group moving forward and a couple of areas we'll address, we'll talk about. But certainly a good step for us."

That next step is the Western Conference Second Round against the Nashville Predators. The schedule has not been announced.

"It's pretty easy for us to look at what happened in the last series and not underestimate that opponent," Yeo said. "So they're a great team and that's life in the Central Division for you, and the Western Conference for you. You get to advance from one good team and you get to go play another."

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