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Yoga, reading and a 10-day training camp: Catching up with Dean Evason

If the season does resume, Evason and the coaching staff are ready

by Tyler Savitsky / Wild.com

It has been over a month since Dean Evason has been behind the bench.

As players, coaches and fans await for hockey to return, Evason has a plan on how to get the team ready if and when the NHL resumes the 2019-20 season.

Of course, his plan may change, as it already has once so far.

"When this first broke, probably the first week or two, we sat down as a coaching staff on a conference call and set up a mini training camp," Evason said. "Which is what we thought was going to happen. We set up a three, four-day minicamp with video and our practice plans and structure."

Much time has passed since that original time, and Evason, along with the rest of the coaching staff now anticipate a longer period to get the players back into game shape.

Video: Dean Evason chats with the media

"We've spoken once a week as a coaching staff and actually this week, Monday morning, we put together a 10-day training camp," Evason said. "We're just trying to get ahead of it, trying to prepare. Same thing, get our videos together, get our practice plans together, get our thought process and obviously it could shift because of what and where we're going to be."

If the season does come back, this second training camp will ease into play much differently than training camp in September.

"You go into training camp like we did last year, the players are skating for at least a month, probably for two months, before they get to training camp, so they're skating," Evason said. "That's why you can have a three-day camp and start your games right away. Because these guys are in top shape. When I first came into the League, it will be more like that where you come to training camp to actually get in shape."

"We've got to really ease into conditioning, be very mindful of injuries, of groins and situations where too much excessive skating will bust the body up."


Back to Reading

Evason has tried to stay active while being self-distancing at home. He has gone to the point of setting up a yoga studio in his bathroom.

"I've got a road bike that I get out on and then I've got one bathroom that has my stationary bike, bought a little heater, so the one's really small, I ride it in there in the morning," Evason said. "And then I do have a yoga studio set up, or my mat set up, and I have a heater and I run that."

With the extra time he now has available, Evason has rekindled an old hobby: reading.

"I used to read a ton when I was a player," he said. "But when you become a coach, even in the summer, it's difficult to really get down to reading a novel.

He has been on a non-fiction bender as of late.

"I just finished [Wayne] Gretzky's book and Mick Jagger's book, Evason said. "I'm on an English book from English hooligans now and I've almost finished that and then I'm going on to Joe Torre's book next."


Playoff Push

When the season was paused on March 12, the Wild trailed by one point for the last spot in the Western Conference Playoffs.

After Evason took over coaching duties on Feb. 14, the team was 8-4-0, including winning six of its final eight games.

"We were excited where our group was," Evason said. "We were excited where our game was. We thought that we were playing really well, with a lot of excitement, a lot of energy and a lot of speed. And we were playing the game the right way."

If the season resumes, and the Wild make a run at the playoffs, the team will need to get out of the gate quickly as only 13 games remain on the team's schedule. That's only if teams finish out a full, 82-game slate ... it could also be less.

"I liken it to a tournament atmosphere, World Championships, back with my experience with Team Canada. The quicker your group comes back together, the better off you're going to be to have success," Evason said. "The quicker your group comes together as you see in these short tournament situations, is usually the group that's able to have success."


No Fans

If the season were to return, it is a real possibility that there would be no fans in the arena. The adjustment would be difficult for everyone, but it is not something that Evason foresees as much of a problem.

"Sure, it would be difficult, but the players would adapt. They would figure it out," Evason said. "I've heard some people say the playoffs wouldn't be as intense. I don't believe that would be the case. Once the game's played, when the puck is dropped, the players play the game and regardless of - sure we would want fans in the building, a lot of why we play this game is to entertain the fans and it's so exciting to have them and their support, no question we would miss not having the fans and clearly the fans would miss not being there and feeling the action as well, but - the players would adjust. They would be as intense. It would be a feeling out process at the start and it would be different for sure, but they would adapt."


Whalers Coaching Factory

When Evason was on the 1985-86 Hartford Whalers, he didn't know that the locker room would be a coaching factory.

Six players from that team have gone on to become NHL head coaches or interim head coaches: Evason, Joel Quenneville, Dave Tippett, Kevin Dineen, John Anderson and Brad Shaw.

Ron Francis and Paul Fenton, two future GMs, were also on that roster.

One teammate in particular stood out to Evason during his playing days that pointed to a future in coaching.

"Tippett was constantly talking hockey," Evason said. "Our rides from Boston to Hartford, we used to take the bus to New York, after games I would sit with Tip and it would just be analyzing the game, just breaking it down, what we did on the forecheck and the PK and we've got to be better on the the PP. He was very in depth at an early age."


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