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Evason well familiar with leadership group he now joins

Former Milwaukee Admirals head coach served five seasons under Boudreau with Capitals

by Dan Myers @DanMyers /

ST. PAUL -- An offseason of tweaking has officially begun for the Wild under new general manager Paul Fenton, and no area of the organization is off limits to change. That includes the coaching staff, which will have a new face on the bench next season as the club announced Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason as the team's newest assistant coach.

The Wild also announced that former assistant coach John Anderson will not return to the team.

Evason is no stranger to Fenton or Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau. In fact, Evason credited his relationships with both men as the reason why he thought the opportunity to come to Minnesota came at the perfect time.

Video: Paul Fenton on hiring of Dean Evason

"Paul and I go back a long way," Evason said. "I started my pro hockey career playing with Paul, and we've been close ever since, through our playing days and our coaching and scouting and GM days for him. We have a very good relationship; a very good personal relationship and a very good working relationship. When the opportunity came about, it was an easy decision.

"It also made it easy because of the relationship I have with Bruce Boudreau and Bob Woods. We've had very successful seasons together, and I'm very comfortable working with them."

For the past six seasons, Evason has served as Admirals head coach under Fenton, who was Milwaukee's general manager. 

"He's got tons of experience. He's classy, the way he handles players," Fenton said. "I would consider him a player's coach. He's a guy that treats people like he wants to be treated. He's very fair, he's thorough, he comes to work every day with a goal and tries to accomplish it. Our experience in Milwaukee was really good and my day-to-day operations and communications with him has been fantastic."

Prior to his time with Milwaukee, Evason was an assistant coach with the Washington Capitals, a span that included all of Boudreau's tenure in the nation's capital.

A native of Flin Flon, Manitoba, Evason, 53, played 803 games in the NHL with five different teams between 1984 and 1996. Evason and Fenton played together on numerous occasions, including as linemates with Binghamton in the American Hockey League, and again with both Hartford and San Jose in the NHL.

"He's no different as a coach than he was as a player," Fenton said. "Incredibly team-oriented, a guy that puts everything on his sleeve every single night."

He concluded his playing career after three seasons in Europe in 1999, before beginning his coaching career in the Western Hockey League in 1999-2000 as head coach of the Kamloops Blazers.

After six seasons as a head coach in the WHL, Evason moved to Washington where he was an assistant for seven seasons under three different head coaches. 

Boudreau took over midway through Evason's second season with Washington, a partnership that lasted five years into the 2011-12 campaign.

"He was very helpful with me. When I first got there, I wasn't anywhere near the coach I am now because you learn every year. And I probably didn't use him as much as I should have used him," Boudreau said. "But he got along really well with the players, he's a really hard worker. He knows his stuff. He's been in every situation [as a coach], so he's a wealth of knowledge. And he's a good person, so hopefully it's a smooth transition."

Wild assistant coach Bob Woods was Boudreau's other assistant in each of his final three seasons with the Capitals, and the tandem of Boudreau, Evason and Woods worked together for 2 1/2 years in Washington, posting a 114-47-25 record during that span.

"I think it will be seamless for them to get back together," Fenton said. "It's nice to have the famailiarity there. I think they'll just hit the ground running is the way I'm portraying it. With Bruce, I think from a comfort zone, it'll put Bruce in a good spot because he's had him before."

Fenton hired Evason to lead the Nashville Predators' AHL affiliate during the summer of 2012, and he led the Admirals to four playoff berths in six seasons in Milwaukee, helping to transform the club into one of the league's most consistent and respected franchises.

Evason said one of the first people he reached out to once he learned Fenton had landed the GM position with Minnesota was to Boudreau.

"I think it was the next day," Evason said. "I just said how I thought great it would be for him to work with Paul. Paul is very honest, very straight-up; there's no hidden agendas, and you know right where you stand at all times with him. And I know the way Bruce works and the way he conducts himself will work extremely well with Paul's personality and the way he does things."


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