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For new aide Evason, Wild transition is ongoing

New assistant coach was hired June 6 after six seasons as head coach of Nashville's top farm team

by Jessi Pierce / Special to

ST. PAUL -- Wild assistant coach Dean Evason had his plate full during the weeklong development camp at Xcel Energy Center, and very little of that had to do with the Xs and Os associated with watching and coaching Wild prospects.

"We haven't really settled in yet," admitted Evason, who's in the process of making the nearly five-hour move from Milwaukee to the Twin Cities area. "We haven't quite found a place to live. My wife's coming to look. We've been [to Minnesota] a couple of times for meetings, but haven't really had that opportunity to find a home."

Such are the trials and tribulations of a relocation, one prompted by general manager Paul Fenton, who hired Evason on June 6 after six seasons with the Nashville Predators' American Hockey League affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals. 

The pair have a longstanding relationship that dates back to their respective NHL playing days and extended into post-hockey careers. Fenton compared his relationship with Evason to a marriage. 

"There's a give and take, and there are times you don't really want to talk to each other, but you have to talk to each other and find the solution," Fenton said. "But with Dean, there's always that balance, and it was few and far between that you lost your cool, lost your temper about the results."

It's that balance and familiarity that prompted Fenton to bring Evason, 53, into the Wild fold, naming him to the Wild bench alongside head coach Bruce Boudreau and fellow assistants Bob Woods, Darby Hendrickson and goaltending coach Bob Mason.

Video: Paul Fenton on hiring of Dean Evason

Evason compiled a 242-161-53 record during the course of his tenure with the Admirals, a mark which included five winning seasons and four playoff berths. A former NHLer with 803 games under his belt, Evason coached and prepared the likes of Frederick Gaudreau and Pontus Aberg, both of whom contributed to Nashville's run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2017. 

As was the case for many of the players during camp, last week was Evason's initiation into the Wild club as he donned gear decorated with the Minnesota logo for the first time. While there was newness in the team colors, the understanding of the importance of developing young players put Evason right at home.

"We're trying to instill that it's important to develop on the ice but it's also very important … to be pros off the ice, as well," Evason said. "Learn how to conduct yourself, learn how to treat people each and every day, preparing to not only know the game but to represent your team and your city. I think those are the type of things that were all trying to instill in these guys, and those are the types of things we were instilling in Milwaukee, too."

Adding to the transition is Evason's history with Boudreau and Woods. He had spent seven seasons with the Washington Capitals, including parts of five under Boudreau and 2 1/2 years with Woods.

"Bruce and Bob and I, we had a great relationship both around the rink and away from the rink, and really looking forward to having that back," Evason said. "I left Washington to go to the minors and be a head coach and get that experience, and I hope that I've come back a better coach. 

"A lot of the stuff I did as a head coach I learned from Bruce, and I'm looking forward to taking my experiences and hoping to prove something with our coaching staff as well."

[RELATED: News, video and more from the Wild's 2018 development camp is available at].

In addition to getting to know other members of the coaching staff and the prospects at camp, Evason has taken time to reach out and chat with Wild forwards Jason Zucker, Eric Fehr and Matt Hendricks. He notes he is looking forward to getting to know all of the players and their personalities, putting an importance on meshing well to help motivate each player to be the best they can. 

And while his focus for the week was on the prospective Wild players, he addressed his thoughts on the state of the current roster as well -- and he's excited to be a part of the organization.

"From the outside looking in with the team, you see the talent level, the depth, the four lines that can play," Evason said. "The defense is as good as anyone in the National Hockey League, and obviously with [goaltender Devan] Dubnyk back there, it's a super solid hockey club. 

"To watch them, it's an exciting team to watch with the skill level and the balance from the outside, and I'm looking forward to see it from the inside. Our job is to ultimately win the Stanley Cup, and that's what were gonna push through. We've had great teams here [in Minnesota] for many years, and we're gonna get over the [playoff] hump. That's the goal."


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