Bill Guerin tees off on Wild’s poor start: ‘Nobody cares how good anybody was last year’

Broussard, Quebec – Like any Wilde fan, Bill Guerin is disappointed and bewildered by the team’s inexplicable 1-3-1 start after a 113-point franchise season a year ago.

He can’t believe how many good players rely on bottom starts. He is upset with the general defensive play. And he is not satisfied with the level of competition = , not so much in terms of effort but in how the team works.

He sees the same red flags that many of you do, but he also doesn’t want to overreact five games into a long season when the truth is that a few modest victories will catapult Wild not only into the standings but into the psyche.

He doesn’t want to waste an option this early by storming the locker room gates and ripping off the guys. Currently, it has allowed coaches to train and has not gone the route of hosting one-on-one meetings.

But the general manager of Wild made it clear while sitting with the athlete On a Sunday in Montreal, it’s time for Wild players to put their shows together or there’s a danger things will go off the rails.

“I think it’s simple here: we are not a beautiful team,” said Guerin, a stunning statement when one considers the entertaining team of last season was a very beautiful team.

“We have some skill – maybe not as much as some other teams – so when we don’t play hard, heavy, physical, when our competitive level isn’t where we want it to be, we suffer. And when we are, we’re fine. That’s how we’re good. We don’t do that now. I don’t see it. I want to start seeing it.”

This is one reason why coach Dean Evason, who was criticized last season after season for not adjusting his lines and defense pairs as St. Mixer in training Monday at the Biel Sports Complex in preparation for Tuesday’s game against the Canadians.

After starting the season with first place last year, Ryan Hartmann, who returned between Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello, Wilde will try to finish third in six games. Taking the call Tuesday night in front of what could be more than 100 friends and family members is Freddy Goudreau, who is about an hour outside of Montreal.

The most visible changes on Monday were the splits of longtime comrades Joel Erickson Eck and Marcos Foligno and defense partners Jonas Prudden and Matt Domba. All four players are off to a tough start, especially the last three. It doesn’t look Foligno himself, maybe he’s trying to play the game with great skill instead of getting the bread and butter of taking defensive responsibility and having deep balls to help his streak establish a pre-check. Brodin was unusually bad, while Dumba was a defensive responsibility, especially when it came to propensity for turnovers.

“We haven’t had much success,” Evason said. “So we’ve been dealing with a few different things and wanted to take a look at it here today. … We had some success last year in the regular season with the line fixtures. It’s a new year, and we might have to change our mindset a little bit with some combinations. So we’re going to do some tweaks. That’s what coaches have in their toolbox is to tweak some things and get some people, get them conscious, and hopefully we can find groups to work on.”

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Foligno skated on the left side of Marco Rossi and Matt Boldy on Monday, while Ericsson Eck focused on Brandon Doheme and Hartmann. The fourth streak consists of Tyson Jost, who had a very disappointing start to his season after a solid training camp, with Sam Steele and alternating Conor Dewar and Mason Shaw.

At the back end, the pairing of Jake Middleton and Jared Spurgeon was intact, but Prudden was paired with Kalin Addison and Domba was to John Merrill’s right.

“Take it off,” Domba said, understanding the reasons for the changes. “We haven’t had the success we wanted, so something has to change and the players have to step up. Guys have to start playing their game, surely I am one of them. I realize that.”

Evason won’t pick any players specifically on Monday, saying, “We can sit here and go down our entire roster and say that every player probably wasn’t as good as we expected. Our squad wasn’t as good as we expected, and we weren’t as good as the coaching staff. Otherwise, we’d have a record. Better than we have. To choose an individual, no, not an opportunity. We are all to blame for our initiation, and we are the ones to get out of it.”

However, last week, Evason—after Wild’s win over Vancouver’s yet to win—did not subtly say, “People who always have a composure…don’t.”

Obviously, he was talking about players like Prudden, Spurgeon, Foligno and Hartmann.

But there are others who are off to a rough start.

Marc-Andre Fleuri allowed 18 goals in his first four games, and while he’s been much better in the past two games to take three points in the standings, the 11 goals he scored in his first four spells are worrying.

Domba, in his nearly tenth and final season with Wild, was shedding the puck like Halloween candy and received a nasty penalty in the last seconds of regulation for Saturday’s overtime loss in Boston.

Jost, after a fantastic training camp, made a suboptimal start and failed to capitalize on a golden opportunity with Jordan Greenway left out of the squad. Jost started with Eriksson Ek and Foligno, and to say that didn’t work is an understatement. Against the Bruins, every analytical metric showed that they controlled the ice throughout. Greenway won’t meet Wild on the five-game road trip, though Guerin said he doesn’t expect to be out “for very long.”

Guerin doesn’t know why the GREEF streak is traditionally ineffective when a Greenway, Eriksson Ek or Foligno is missing, but said coaches should keep trying to find harmony and in the meantime “sometimes it’s good to get a break from each other as well”, thus sending Ericsson off. Ek from Work Foligno: “If things don’t click, you have to try new things. But Marcus and Ecker have to find a way to be more effective.”

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“We have people who can play better,” she added. “Everyone wants to play better, but you just have to play harder, with a little bit of intelligence. There are some positive things, like our strong play was really good. That’s something we really need to get better at. I think it helped us. We scored some goals. We just need to.” To abide by the work ethic and that sacrifice.

“We don’t block enough shots. We don’t run with the puck. If you watch, it’s just little things here and there. Our passes aren’t on tape. We flip pucks and that’s just not us.”

The Wild has blocked 12.86 shots per 60 minutes, which ranks 26th in the NHL. Evason said it was a sign of a lack of commitment and was addressed.

Guerin wasn’t about to blow the squad five games into the season, but if this continues, some players will have to be on the alert.

Dampa is in the final year of his contract, and that alone makes him a potential trading option any time before the March 3 trading deadline, especially considering that University of Minnesota captain Brock Faber is expected to sign after his junior season and likely come directly into Wilde’s squad.

Jost is a suspended free agent, and if he doesn’t pick up his play in a big way, he might not have a long future in Minnesota.

“I want to see this group work itself out to get out of it,” Geren said. “And I’m big on personality and I think we have a lot of personality.”

For example, when Guerin spoke in an outside courtyard, various factions of players walked in, walking to dinner on Sunday night.

Veterans Spurgeon, Ericson Eck and Zuccarillo were heading to a restaurant with the 21-year-old Rossi. Not long after, Foligno walked in with the two youngsters Steele and Addison.

“That’s what I mean,” Guerin said. “We have good people in this team. It says a lot. Nobody is left behind, nobody is forgotten and it makes our guys feel more comfortable.”

But that doesn’t necessarily translate into wins, and that’s what Guerin wants you to start seeing.

“Nobody gives like what we did last year,” Geren said. “No one cares how great someone was last year. You have to show up and play hard every night and it seems like some of our guys have realized that they can step on the ice and we will be a good team like last year and they will be good players.

“Our expectations are higher. Things are not the same. … We have to get better every year. We have to push. And I think now, maybe, we thought we’d pick up where we left off at the end of last regular season. But it’s not like that. We have to improve. We’ll be It’s more difficult for the players because we expect more.”

But, again, Guerin wasn’t at the point where he would go into the locker room and start screaming and screaming, even though he considered it. It’s in defense where he really wants to see improvement, not just from the players on the ice but from the coaches working with the players in practice.

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“You can’t go in there and yell at players and pressure them to play better,” Geren said. “You can’t do that. It puts extra pressure on me. They need support. They need help. They have to be trained by coaches. Like a really coach, and I think our guys do that. And then they need support from me. It’s not one of the Those things that if a guy didn’t have a good game, I wouldn’t look at him or I wouldn’t talk to him. That doesn’t help him. They really need support.”

A lot of Wild’s goals were made at the beginning of the year.

Florey, who is expected to play his 944th career regular-season game to pass Curtis Joseph for the sixth time ever on Tuesday night at the site of his 500th career victory last season, is 1-1-1 with 5.25 goals. Average and .847 savings percentage. Reserve Philip Gustafson, the former Senate goalkeeper, is 0-2 with 5.06 goals-to-average and 0.860 save ratios.

But Guerin insists he is not worried and is not actively looking to treat this problem.

Guerin felt Fleury didn’t get enough work in pre-season,” and Flower loves a lot of work. He thrives on that. Maybe we should have played him more, but I think Flower is very competitive and no one has been more disappointed with him. “But he’s really got a job. He’s really focused on training, his game setup and all that stuff. He’s a professional. He’s not just going to sit there and let that happen.”

“But I believe in both men. Jas is in a new place. Zahra is just proving herself again. Sometimes it takes time. You have to be patient with men. I still believe in them.”

Buses had a Sunday getaway to a local spa by boat on the St. Lawrence River. They liked it so much, many guys were heading there after Monday’s training, in the words of Domba, “to give the body what it needed and a healthy mind.”

“I still believe in this team,” Domba said. “We spent two days here (in Montreal) freaking out, just come and understand we’re fine. We are ok. We’ve had two wins, we’re fine. Two wins, you’re back to… you’re over 0.500. Let’s take the positives from the last two games. We have three points out of four. So we are heading in the right direction. All these other things are behind us and you have to move on.”

Guerin echoed those sentiments, saying, “I want guys to just say, ‘F,’ and go away. “Take the time and space away. Be physical. Be tough on guys. Don’t worry about making mistakes, because when you worry about making mistakes, you make them. We are (three) points off a wild card, not 20. I still believe in this team.” I still believe in men.

“It is not just the start we are looking for. So we just need to work. There is plenty of time if we start working. If we continue with this, it may be a long year, but it is not now.”

(Photo: Paul Rutherford/USA Today)


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