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Wild coach Dean Evason has interim tag removed, gets two-year contract extension

Sarah Mclellan, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Hockey

Pucks slammed into goalie pads with a thud, skate shavings went flying, and sticks clapped against the ice.

For the first time in four months, the Wild practiced at Tria Rink in St. Paul -- kicking off training camp with all the familiar sights and sounds despite restarting in mid-July after the coronavirus pandemic halted the season in March.

But that wasn't the only reason why Monday was significant.

In a pair of moves that make the team's future clearer, the Wild removed Dean Evason's interim tag and named the former assistant its fifth head coach in franchise history and it locked up coveted prospect Kirill Kaprizov with a two-year, entry-level contract.

"It's an exciting day," General Manager Bill Guerin said. "It's an exciting day for a lot of reasons."

Ever since Guerin dismissed Bruce Boudreau on Feb. 14 and promoted Evason, he intended to conduct a thorough search for a replacement -- which he told Evason from the start.

 

The pause in the season put a pin in those plans, but Evason already had a case in the works.

Not only did the Wild perform well under his direction, going 8-4 to edge into the playoff picture enough to be included in the 24-team tournament as part of the NHL's return to play plan, but Guerin also felt Evason had a strong rapport with the players and his work ethic during the downtime was noticeable.

"He didn't act like an interim coach or a part-time guy," Guerin said. "He was a coach, and he understood that and took that leadership role and was constantly communicating with the players, finding out what they were doing, where they were at, if they were healthy.

"Dean's got a really good mix of intensity and fire and then compassion for the guys, and an understanding for the guys, and that's what I really liked."

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