Mike Yeo (Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)
Mike Yeo has reportedly interviewed for an assistant coaching job in St. Louis and there’s potential for him to take over after Blues coach Ken Hitchcock retires at the end of the 2016-17 season. Yeo, 42, was let go by the Minnesota Wild this past season.
Mike Yeo was reportedly in the running for the coaching gig with the Ottawa Senators, has been looked at as a potential hire with the Anaheim Ducks and Calgary Flames and he’s been consistently considered a possibility for one of the many open assistant coaching gigs. But now he might have his eye on a job as a bench boss, but the position isn’t quite open yet.
According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo, the former Wild coach is in St. Louis to interview for an open assistant job with the Blues where he could become the next in line for the team’s coaching job. Upon signing a one-year deal with the Blues earlier this week, St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said this would be his final season coaching — not just in St. Louis, but anywhere — meaning Stanley Cup or not, the Blues will have a coaching vacancy at season’s end.
Russo reported that Yeo was spotted “having lunch with Armstrong and fellow Blues brass and former hockey playing legends Al MacInnis and Martin Brodeur.” Read into it what you will, but he could be a nice fit in St. Louis.
Yeo is coming off of four and a half seasons behind the Minnesota bench over which he posted a 173-132-44 record, and coached the Wild to the post-season in three straight campaigns from 2012-13 to 2014-15. Yeo’s Wild were 11-17 in the playoffs and won two rounds. But even if he hasn’t had the most post-season success, there are a few reasons why Yeo would be an interesting hire.
First and foremost, Yeo knows the division. The Wild were Central Division opponents of the Blues, and Yeo is not only familiar with St. Louis — coaching against a team several times a year will do that — but he knows the teams within the division. Yeo’s understanding of what is one of the toughest divisions in hockey, the Central, could definitely help him down the line.
Yeo’s experience working with young talent and veteran players alike also makes him a good candidate to take over. There’s been an influx of rookie talent into the lineup, and there is bound to be more over the next few seasons. Yeo did excellent work with players such as Erik Haula, Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter and Charlie Coyle, and he could be just the coach to work with Colton Parayko, Robby Fabbri and Jaden Schwartz.
That’s not to say that Yeo isn’t without his flaws, however. Over the five and a half seasons Yeo was Minnesota’s coach, the Wild were the 24th-ranked possession team in the league with a 48.4 shot attempts percentage. Having teams that drove possession wasn’t Yeo’s strong suit, and never did the Wild finish above 16th in the league shot attempts for percentage.
Even if Yeo is hired, St. Louis will need a second assistant. Both Kirk Muller and Brad Shaw exited this past week after turning down one-year deals, and Yeo would only fill one of the jobs. Muller has since been hired as an associate coach by the Montreal Canadiens.