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Wild Finalizes Coaching Staff For 2011-12

by Glen Andresen / Minnesota Wild

As Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo was dealing with questions regarding the Wild's blockbuster trade with San Jose on Draft night, he also got questions about his search for his assistant coaches.

Yeo mentioned that he had a good meeting with Darby Hendrickson, and that he'd like to have his full staff in place before the Wild's Development Camp begins on July 11.

Another "To Do" has been checked off Yeo's lengthy list.

Yeo has hired Darryl Sydor and retained Hendrickson on the staff, and the two will join assistant Rick Wilson and goaltender coach Bob Mason who will also be kept.

The only new face on the Wild bench will by Sydor, but he's familiar with Yeo. After retiring from an illustrious 18-season career, Sydor was an assistant with Yeo in Houston this past season. He was instrumental in that team becoming a defensively responsible group that featured several players close to competing for NHL jobs.

"It's obviously happened quick," said Sydor of his rapid rise in just a year. "It was my goal to be back in the NHL, and obviously my decision to coach with Mike last year turned out to be the right decision. I thought that would be the best for my coaching career to learn from a guy like that and with the year we had, things have worked quicker than expected. But I'm looking forward to getting back to the NHL, that's for sure."

For Yeo, having a player not far removed from an NHL career was huge for Sydor's ability to relate to players and know what they go through during the ups and downs of a full season.

“You can’t say enough of what [Sydor] done for these guys [in Houston],” said Yeo. “From a tactical standpoint and a positional standpoint, what he can offer to those guys is invaluable. But I think more than anything else, you’ve got a guy who’s played for so long that he understands the emotions and the mental aspects of the game that he can share with these guys as far as how to prepare, as far as how to be a pro and how to bounce back from a tough game and how to stay sharp when you’re playing well.”

Sydor isn't just familiar with Yeo. He is even more familiar with Wilson, who coached him while both were with the Dallas Stars and won a Stanley Cup in 1999.

"I think Wilson took me to a new level as a player when I came from Los Angeles in 1995-96," said Sydor. "Obviously with his experience in being a coach for so many years, I'll learn a lot from him again.

In Hendrickson, Yeo hangs onto one of the most popular former players in Wild history, and also a coach who gained respect from many players on the current roster last season.

"I know the players think very highly of Darby," said Yeo. "This is a guy that I believe the organization has a lot of faith in. I have a lot of respect for him."

Hendrickson did not appear on the bench for any of last year's games, instead watching games from above in arena press boxes and working with players on the ice.

Sitting by Hendrickson was often Mason, who in addition to working with the Wild's goaltenders, will often visit the team's prospects such as Matthew Hackett and Darcy Kuemper.

As of now, it's unclear exactly what roles will be played by each coach as both Wilson and Sydor are defensive specialists.

"We haven't hashed all that out yet," Sydor said.
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