Minnesota Wild Struggling with Confidence, Especially Matt Boldy
The Minnesota Wild have a new head coach, in John Hynes, after Dean Evason was fired on Monday, along with assistant coach Bob Woods.
Hynes is known for his professionalism off the ice and a grinding, defense-first style on it. Most expect the Wild’s horrid penalty kill and extensive defensive issues to improve under their new head coach.
But Bill Guerin rarely touched on execution issues, when introducing John Hynes in a press conference on Tuesday, and Billy made it known that this team doesn’t have a buy-in problem.
Minnesota Wild have a confidence problem
What they do have, according to their president of hockey operations, is a confidence problem. Guerin made it clear that there’s some high-end talent on the roster struggling with self-confidence on the ice and he went back to that well multiple times during his 30-minute presser this morning.
Reporter: “What needs fixing, first and foremost?”
Guerin: “First and foremost is confidence. I think the guys, as a team and as individuals, we need to help them get their confidence back. [Get them] confident in their individual abilities, confident to make plays, especially under duress, hold on to pucks… things like that. Just build them back up to where they can perform at their highest level.”
Reporter: “Bill, you mentioned you didn’t feel like ‘it’ was coming back. Can you elaborate as to what ‘it’ is?
Guerin: “I guess what I mean… ‘It’ is a little bit of everything, you know? It’s confidence, it’s swagger, it’s the ability to make plays. The feeling that when you step out on the ice, you’re gonna accomplish something. And it just didn’t seem like that was coming back.”
Obviously, as Billy noted, a losing streak like what the Wild are currently going through will zap any team’s confidence. Sometimes in life, you need a change, especially in sports.
Guerin isn’t going to fire himself (even though he maybe should, given the contracts he’s signed recently) and he doesn’t have a lot of options to shuffle the roster, if he wants to keep postseason hopes alive. And Billy made it clear, both during and after his presser, that the Wild made this move because they still plan on making the playoffs.
Poor play weighting on Matt Boldy ‘like a ton of bricks’
So, the only big change he could make was to fire the coach. It might work, it might not, but something had to be done. So here we are. But it was where Guerin went a few minutes later, when asked about his top playmakers, who haven’t been carrying their weight through the first quarter of this season, specifically Matt Boldy.
When pressed by reporters, Billy seemed less concerned with Kirill Kaprizov, who he believes looks better and more confident of late. As for the team’s second best youngster, 22-year-old winger Matt Boldy, the Wild’s president of hockey operations carried a much different tone.
“Kirill [Kaprizov] loves playing hockey. He loves competing and when you see him doing that with a smile on his face, he’s got that personality coming out, you know something’s coming and I haven’t seen that a lot this year but [vs Toronto and Colorado] I could see glimpses of that, which is good.
Matt [Boldy]… hey, Matt’s struggling. And you know, it’s hard, it’s hard. Put money aside, put contracts aside, this is a 22-year-old kid, OK? And we’re asking a lot out of him. He knows he’s struggling more than anybody else, more than any of the experts out there. And I guarantee the experts out there have never been through something like this. This is weighing on him like a ton of bricks and it’s our job to help him get out of it. We’re not there to beat him up and point fingers at him or anything. We gotta help him out and nobody wants to do it more than him.”
Sure, John Hynes was brought in to help the Minnesota Wild execute in a way that Dean Evason could not. But what’s become clear, as this presser went on, is that he’s been brought in to fix a serious confidence problem that this team has, especially with Matt Boldy.