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Fletcher, Torchetti Talk About Wild Coaching Change

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

The morning after Mike Yeo was relieved of his coaching duties, Minnesota Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher and interim Head Coach John Torchetti each addressed the media, painting a picture of a team in the middle of a slide, but one capable of getting out of it.

On Jan. 9, the Wild defeated the Dallas Stars 2-1 at American Airlines Center, and sat in seventh place overall in the NHL.

On Sunday, 36 days later, the Wild is five points out of a playoff spot, one that Minnesota has comfortably been in for most of the season. Since that game in Dallas, the Wild has gone 1-11-2, and dropped out of the top eight in the Western Conference.

"Starting with the New Jersey game the next night, things have just fallen apart for us," Fletcher said. "We’ve had a tough four weeks.

"We had some good meetings last week in St. Louis and I really like the way we played the three subsequent games, and then yesterday we took a step back. So, I made the decision after the game to let Mike go.”

The subsequent move was to promote Torchetti from his position in Iowa to the NHL level and Minnesota, where Torchetti said he would demand high-effort and stress accountability.

"The bottom line is we’ve got to get playing with confidence," Torchetti said. "It’s tough when you’re not winning. You grip sticks but everybody’s got a clean slate now, and we’ve just got to get to work. I just want to see the work ethic, and I want to see the battles won, and the rest will take care of itself."

In the locker room, the Wild players said it's up to them to go out and play well, and make a push to get back into a playoff position.

"At the end of the day, we weren't performing," Ryan Suter said. "We can definitely get back into this. Everyone has got to be at the top of their game if we want to make this happen."

Torchetti said he's not sure what adjustments he might make, and that he will need to watch the next few games. Iowa and Minnesota are very similar systems-wise, though Torchetti did highlight a few things he would like to see done differently.

"For us, we have to be more willing to attack the net and we have to make sure special teams is a privilege," he said. "We want to make sure we have a net-front presence and a shooting mentality starting on our power play.

"We just have to build confidence throughout the whole system and make sure everyone is held accountable and playing hard every night."

It's a position Torchetti is familiar with: twice previously he's been promoted to an interim head-coaching role in the middle of the season.

"I have a little bit of an idea with the players and how they’re feeling," he said. "I’m just very excited about the opportunity, and hopefully my past experience with clubs, … just dealing with the players, that’s the number one thing moving forward."

The Wild made a big change on Saturday, but the message on Sunday was that with just under a third of the season remaining, there's still a lot of work to be done.

"This is no time to feel sorry for ourselves," Fletcher said. "We let a very good person go yesterday, and as I told the group today, that's an indictment on all of us.

"The great thing about hockey is there's a next game, there's a next play. We're going to try to go forward and win a game in Vancouver."

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