It’s official: the Minnesota Wild have made Mike Yeo the team’s head coach for the 2011-2012 season. Yeo, formerly the head coach of Minnesota’s AHL affiliate, the Houston Aeros, will be just the franchise’s 3rd head coach, and will also be the youngest active head coach in the NHL at 37 years old. The announcement came this morning during a press conference at the Xcel Energy Center.
While Yeo has no experience as a head coach in the NHL, he has spent plenty of time on various benches throughout hockey, and success seems to follow him wherever he goes. He was an assistant on the Pittsburgh Penguin team that appeared in two Stanley Cup Finals, and won the 2009 Stanley Cup. More recently, he led the Houston Aeros to the Calder Cup Finals in his only season as the team’s head coach, despite not having many high draft picks on the team.
The selection of Mike Yeo comes just 7 days before the NHL Draft, which is to be held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. This is important, because Minnesota needed to figure out what types of players they were going to draft to fit into the coach’s system and style of play. Yeo likes to find speed and use it to his advantage, so look for some quicker players to be taken by the Wild next week.
Another positive of Yeo’s hire is his familiarity of some of the players he will coach this coming season, as he will have coached them in Houston last year. This could help the maturing and development of some of the younger talent, as well as keep a familiar face in the locker room. Overall, I feel good about the hire, but only time will tell he Yeo’s coaching talent will transfer to an NHL bench.
The North Bay, Ontario native will replace former coach Todd Richards, who was fired at the conclusion of the 2010-2011 season. Richards failed to put the Wild into the postseason in his two seasons at the helm, despite being in great position to do so near the end of both years.