Dean Evason Blames Wild Goalies for Getting Him Fired

Minnesota Wild, Filip Gustavsson
Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Wild suffered their first loss of the John Hynes era on Thursday night, a 2-0 loss on the road vs one of the best teams in the Western Conference, the Vancouver Canucks.

Dean Evason blames Minnesota Wild goalies for getting him fired

In last night’s loss, goaltending was far from the Wild’s biggest problem. But don’t tell that to Dean Evason, who told Darren Wolfson (KSTP, SKOR North) that Minnesota’s poor goaltending while he was head coach is ultimately what got him fired.

“[Dean Evason] doesn’t feel like he lost the locker room. He felt like he pushed literally every button. He screamed, he coddled, he switched lines. Bottom line, his goalies let him down. And that was one thing that maybe came up more so off-camera than on. He just told me, ‘you do the homework on this but look at the goals we have given up, then look at those shot opportunities…”

Darren Wolfson – Mackey & Judd Show (SKOR North)

The on-camera portion of Evason’s interview with Wolfson can be watched HERE and listened to HERE. In the sitdown, Dean shows a side of himself that we never really got to see while he was head coach of the Wild. Definitely worth watching/listening to.

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And before we jump to conclusions and label Dean Evason as a sour ex-coach looking to point fingers at anyone but himself… let’s see if he is right. Did the Wild’s goaltending cost Deano his job? Ding, ding, ding… yes, it did.

Former head coach isn’t wrong about Wild goaltending…

dean evason blames minnesota wild goalies being fired john hynes new head coach
Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports

In fact, goalie play has been the Wild’s most improved area since Hynes took over as head coach. The Athletic moved Minnesota up four spots in their weekly power rankings (#25 up to #21) and pointed to the play of Filip Gustavsson and Marc-Andre Fleury as the catalyst for improved play under Hynes.

A lot went right in Minnesota’s four-game winning streak to start the John Hynes era, as detailed in this from Joe Smith, but nothing looms larger than that .955 save percentage. Filip Gustavsson and Marc-Andre Fleury had been two of the NHL’s worst goaltenders, basically until Dean Evason was shown the door. Improved play from both, regardless of the reason, will go a long way.

The Athletic NHL Power Rankings

There are advanced analytics worth studying all over the game of hockey and that’s no different for goaltending. There’s Expected goals against and save % vs high danger scoring chances vs not… etc, etc, etc. But you don’t need advanced data to see that Evason is spot on with his assessment of the Wild’s goaltending while he was at the helm.

Filip Gustavsson, Marc-Andre Fleury good since John Hynes took over

Overall, Wild goalies are 4-1-0 since John Hynes took over as head coach. I’m not sure where The Athletic got that .955 save % from. Hockey Reference has Minnesota saving 120 of 127 shots, since Hynes took over, good for .945 save %. That’s still pretty damn good. The best team save % in the NHL this season is Boston’s .922.

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Under Evason, goaltending was a completely different story. The kind of story you don’t read before bedtime. With Dean behind the bench Minnesota went 5-10-4 with a save % of .869. That’s dangerously close to the Carolina Hurricanes’ league worst .868 on the season.

Filip Gustavsson has started four of the Wild’s first five games under their new head coach. His combined save % in those four contests: .939. In 11 appearances this season under Evason: .881.

Marc-Andre Fleury will make his second start for John Hynes on Friday night. He allowed one goal on 29 attempts (.966) in his first appearance. Under Evason, Fleury was abysmal, posting a .875 cumulative save % in nine appearances.

If I’m Dean Evason, I’m not sure I go as far as telling the town’s scoop master that it was my goalies who cost me my job… but that doesn’t mean he was wrong. And… at the end of the day, you have to respect a guy who tells it like it is.

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