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New Wild Assistants Hoping To Breed Success

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

When Bruce Boudreau was introduced as the Minnesota Wild's new head coach, General Manager Chuck Fletcher said Boudreau would gain instant credibility from his players because of his coaching pedigree and resume.

Boudreau's new assistants aren't inexperienced or without previous successes in their own regard, and as a new coaching staff, is collectively hoping to help the Wild find the next gear it's been searching for.

And the first order of business, according to the new coaches, is getting everyone on the same page, buying into the coach's message, and building a high level of trust.

"I've been fortunate enough to coach some championship teams, and so has Bruce, and certainly Scott (Stevens) has been on a few championship teams," John Anderson, one of Minnesota's new assistants, told "One of the things that's true about all of it, they were all good teams, but they were all together. If you're not going to buy in, if there's just one guy, that can really upset the apple cart."

That's where the credibility factor comes in. Boudreau is the NHL's active coaching leader in winning percentage. Anderson won four championships coaching the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League. Scott Stevens, the Wild's other new assistant coach, won three Stanley Cups as a player, and is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

When the message is coming from that trio, it's hard to fall on deft ears.

"I know the players are going to like him," Stevens said to of Boudreau. "He's very smart; he's been around the game a long time; he's coached at all different levels with success; so it's very exciting. I can learn from him, and it's going to be a very exciting year."

Having made the Stanley Cup Playoffs each of the past four years, and having won two series, the Wild is at a point where it wants to make a deeper playoff run.

Getting that full buy-in factor and a roster completely on the same page will be paramount to that sustained success, according to Minnesota's new assistants. Having three new voices, Anderson said, should also help.

"I'm positive (it will help), and you saw a little bit of it last year when they made a coaching change," he said. "They got going a little bit again. Sometimes just that little change will help, and we're going to add a few things that are a little different that they haven't seen. That's always exciting as a player."

What the new coaches will add on to, according to Anderson and Stevens, is a foundation in place that is in part built on team speed.

It's an element of the game so many have pointed out as a core attribute of the 2016 Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins, and something each new assistant highlighted as one of the Wild's strengths.

"That's what's exciting about this team, is its speed up front and on the back end," Stevens said. "On the back end, the guys can all skate and move their feet, and it's so important in puck-retrievals, and getting up the ice, and supporting the offense. The defense definitely can skate, and it's going to be fun to work with these guys, and there's lots of speed up front.

"We have to play with our assets."

Having coached the minor league affiliate of the St. Louis Blues, Anderson watched in-person when the Wild eliminated its Central Division rival in a first round series of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, when he said the Wild's skating ability was the difference.

"You have to build on what you have," Anderson said. "You can't be something you're not. We'll certainly use that, but we want to add a little bit of a different flair as we go along, and hopefully the combination can make us successful throughout the playoffs."

Because where the Wild stands, according to both new coaches, is with a roster with the talent to reach the heights that it's been grasping at the past few seasons.

"The most important thing is you have to have everybody on board," Stevens said. "Everybody has to make sacrifices. Your top players right down to your fourth line, and it's so important to have four lines, and have people feel like they have a role, and they have a spot on this team and a way of contributing to the team's success.

"That's what Bruce wants to bring. You see it in the playoffs that you need everybody to be committed. You need four lines, and everybody feel you have a role on the team, and importance. That's what we're trying to do here."

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