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High expectations remain as Evason takes over coaching duties

Evason has waited for this opportunity and looks to seize his chance

by Tyler Savitsky / Wild.com

ST. PAUL -- If the Wild make a run to the playoffs, it will be under the charge of Interim Head Coach Dean Evason.

Evason was named interim head coach on Friday morning shortly after Bruce Boudreau was relieved of his coaching duties.

"The record the last 10 has been pretty good," General Manager Bill Guerin said. "There's just some things I feel need to be better. I feel Dean is a guy that has a good grasp on that, and he's going to be able to execute it. I feel like the guys need a different voice right now moving forward."

Evason was hired by the Wild as an assistant coach in June of 2018 and brought over 20 years of coaching experience with him.

He has coached at multiple levels since his playing career ended, with stops in the Western Hockey League, American Hockey League and NHL. Prior to joining the Wild, he was the head coach of the Milwaukee Admirals in the AHL from 2012-2018 and finished with a 242-161-53 record during his tenure.

At the NHL level, Evason was an assistant for the Washington Capitals from 2005-2012. In his seven seasons there, the Capitals went to the playoffs five years and won four Southeast Division titles.

That winning mentality is something he looks to bring to the Wild as it prepares for its final 25 games of the regular season.

Trailing by only three points for the second Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, Evason does not expect the coaching change to have any impact on the team's playoff goals.

"I mean, we're right there," he said. "Every year, the goal should be the win the Stanley Cup. It should be every single year, I would assume, for every single team. And your steps along the way, one of them is clearly making the playoffs. So that's our next step."

Video: Evason takes over as interim head coach

As Evason prepares for his first NHL game as head coach, he will be fulfilling a goal of his that has been many years in the making.

"This has been my goal in coaching is to be a head coach at the highest level," Evason said. "This is the highest level, this is the NHL. Regardless of the situation and how you get here, this is something that I've strived for. And I've got the opportunity and I'm going to try to do it the way that I've learned I guess how to be a head coach through so many different head coaches that I've had. And hopefully do the right things in order to allow our hockey club to have success."

Guerin believes that Evason's passion is something that can help spark the players.

"I know Dean has his own thoughts and beliefs and what he believes is going to give us success," Guerin said. "I have full confidence in him. The one thing I really do like about Dean is his passion, his fire for the game. I am hoping that that translates to the players. I think these guys really like Dean a lot. He goes at the game just like he played, and that's aggressive and with a lot of passion and emotion. I have confidence in him."

Evason knows taking over in this part of the season means that there can not be an immediate overhaul to the team, but he will come in and be authentic to who he is.

"I'm just going to try to be myself. I'm going to just try to lead," he said. "I think any coaching position, you have to lead and you have to rely on people. Good people. We have great people in our organization and obviously great assistant coaches in [Bob Mason] and Darby [Hendrickson] and Bob Woods and Jonas [Plumb] our video coach. I'm going to lean on them a lot. We are going to be a team behind the coach's door as much as we want the group to be a team when they step on the ice.

"My biggest word is accountability. We want the group to be accountable, and we want to be aggressive. If we make aggressive mistakes, you can live with them. If you make passive mistakes, they're hard to live with. Example of last night, we were very passive in the last 10 minutes of the hockey game, and it hurt us. We want to be very aggressive as a group and that's one of the things that we will be stressing, too."

With a quick turnaround as the team hosts the San Jose Sharks on Saturday afternoon, Evason feels the team is ready to go.

"I think they're pretty honed in right now," he said. "I think when something like this happens, it catches everyone's attention. Hopefully, they all individually feel a bit responsible to what happened. We all should. We all should be motivated to go forward and try to do the right things to get to where we want to be."


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