The flailing Wild will have a new coach in charge when they try to snap their losing streak.
Dean Evason and assistant Bob Woods were fired Monday after the Wild dropped a season-high seventh consecutive game.
Former Nashville and New Jersey coach John Hynes was tabbed to take over while the franchise is in its worst skid since an eight-game rut Jan. 23-Feb. 13, 2016.
"I am so thankful to have been given the opportunity to work with the Minnesota Wild organization," Evason said via text message, "especially the amazing fan base for the last few years."
President of Hockey Operations Bill Guerin and Hynes will address the media on Tuesday, and Hynes will be behind the bench later that night when the Wild face St. Louis at Xcel Energy Center.
This change comes in an already challenging season for the Wild, who are in a salary-cap bind, but their swoon has still been baffling. They've plunged down the standings despite returning almost the same roster that battled for the top seed in the Central Division last season and totaled 103 points.
Poor starts and leaky defending hurt them early, with a 6-2 blowout by Philadelphia a month ago kicking off a four-game slide. Then their special teams nose-dived while their offensive leaders underperformed, the low point an 8-3 shellacking by Dallas on Nov. 12 that included giving up a franchise-record five power-play goals.
Two games in Sweden were more Wild-like, as was the loss last Friday to Colorado, but a 4-1 clunker at Detroit on Sunday felt like a step back with untimely penalties and a lackluster offense handcuffing the Wild.
Kirill Kaprizov has six goals in 19 games and is on pace to finish well shy of the 40 he registered last season. Matt Boldy has one goal and none in the 10 games he's played since returning from injury. Marcus Johansson also has a single tally, Marcus Foligno two and Frederick Gaudreau zero.
Goalies Filip Gustavsson and Marc-Andre Fleury each have sub-.900 save percentages and Jake Middleton is a minus-9 and combined minus-12 with captain Jared Spurgeon in the six games they've been together since Spurgeon healed from a preseason injury.
The Wild are 5-10-4 to rank 30th in the NHL with the league's worst penalty kill (66.7%), second-highest goals-against average (3.95) and bottom-10 power play (16.2%).
"Obviously disappointed that our season has started this way," Foligno said via text message. "Not fair to our coaches. Dean and Woodsy are great people and did a lot for myself and this team in the years they were here."
Even the Wild's wins have been mostly uncharacteristic of the DNA that the team was supposed to retain after subtracting only one regular in Matt Dumba and adding only veteran Pat Maroon during the offseason, minimal turnover indicative of the team having nearly $15 million of its budget eaten up by the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter buyouts.
With that asterisk looming over the team, Evason and his staff juggled the lines, tweaked the penalty kill and adjusted the players' on-ice schedule in the search for solutions, but none of those tactics panned out and the frustration was palpable.
After the loss at Detroit, Evason told reporters the "same guys are not pulling their weight."
When asked specifically about Boldy, Evason said, "We'll take accountability, but there's sometimes when a player's gotta step up," before adding, "These guys get paid a lot of money to score goals and to play better, and some guys aren't.
"We'll do what we can do from our end, but there's gotta be some looking in the mirror, as well."
This dip from their offensive leaders is new, especially Kaprizov and Boldy, but the problems with the penalty kill and power play aren't; these are the same issues that led to first-round playoff exits the past two years.
Woods, who had been an assistant since 2017, oversaw the penalty kill and defense.
Darby Hendrickson, in his 14th season with the Wild, and Jason King, who was brought in during the offseason to direct the power play, remain behind the bench.
Evason, who was in the second-to-last season of a three-year contract, leaves after going 147-77-27 through parts of five seasons. Initially hired as an assistant in 2018, he became the team's interim coach after Bruce Boudreau was fired in 2020.
Later that year, Evason was promoted and led the Wild to four consecutive playoff berths but no series wins while implementing an up-tempo, aggressive style that eventually evolved into opportunistic scoring in front of no-nonsense defending.
The Wild were at their best under his direction in 2021-22 when they set franchise records in wins (53), points (113) and goals (305), and Evason finished fourth in voting for the league's best coach after being a Jack Adams Award finalist the previous season.
In Hynes, the Wild are acquiring a coach familiar to Guerin.
Hynes, 48, was behind the bench for Pittsburgh's American Hockey League affiliate while Guerin was a player development coach and assistant general manager for the Penguins. The Warwick, R.I., native went on to coach the Devils for parts of five seasons and then joined the Predators in 2020, going 134-96-18 before he was let go after last season.
He'll be the seventh head coach in Wild history, and this is the second coaching change in the NHL this season.
Edmonton swapped out Jay Woodcroft for Kris Knoblauch earlier this month as the Oilers floundered near the league's basement despite being a Stanley Cup favorite.
Since then, Edmonton has passed the Wild and as grim as the Wild's situation is, they have an opportunity to make their own climb.
The gap between them and the playoff pace in the Western Conference is seven points, and many of the teams the Wild are chasing are coming up on the calendar.
But for a turnaround to happen, the Wild first have to shake off this funk.
"It's on us players to get this back on track," Foligno said.