Minnesota Wild fire coach Dean Evason, assistant Bob Woods after losing 14 of first 19 games

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The Minnesota Wild fired coach Dean Evason and assistant Bob Woods on Monday after losing seven straight games and 14 of their first 19 to start to the NHL season.

General manager Bill Guerin announced the moves without confirming Evason’s replacement. According to multiple reports, former New Jersey and Nashville coach John Hynes will take over. The Wild planned a news conference with Guerin and the next coach for Tuesday, prior to their game against St. Louis.

Evason, 59, had three full seasons in charge of the Wild, who gave him his first head coaching job in the NHL on Feb. 14, 2020, when Bruce Boudreau was fired and he was promoted from his assistant role. He went 147-77-27 in 251 regular season games and 8-15 in the postseason without winning any series.

During the pandemic break, Guerin decided to drop the interim tag and give Evason the job once the Wild resumed practice. They lost a best-of-five series to Vancouver in the qualifying round that year, then dropped best-of-seven first round matchups with Vegas in 2021, St. Louis in 2022 and Dallas in 2023.

The 2021-22 ending was the most disappointing, when the Wild posted a franchise-record 113 points in the regular season for the second-best record in the Western Conference behind eventual champion Colorado. They lost to the Blues in six games.

“Dean did an excellent job during his tenure with the Minnesota Wild, especially as head coach of our team,” Guerin said in a statement distributed by the club. “I am very thankful for his hard work and dedication to our organization. I would also like to thank Bob for his hard work during his time as an assistant coach with the Wild. I wish Dean, Bob and their families all the best in the future.”

Evason is already the second NHL coach fired this season after the Edmonton Oilers dismissed Jay Woodcroft and replaced him with Kris Knoblauch. The Oilers have won four of seven since.

Not much has gone well for the Wild (5-10-4) this season, after bringing back largely the same roster due to salary cap constraints stemming from the contract buyouts two years ago of franchise cornerstones Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.

Matt Boldy, who scored 31 goals last season, has scored just once 12 games into the first season of his $49 million, seven-year contract. Kirill Kaprizov — the team’s highest-paid player at $9 million per season — has six goals in 19 games. Evason had been critical of both of the young stars, imploring them to elevate their performances. The Wild are 22nd in the league in goals per game (2.95).

Only the lowly San Jose Sharks have allowed more goals per game than Minnesota (3.95), with Filip Gustavsson and Marc-Andre Fleury struggling and the defense in front of them uncharacteristically flimsy. Defenseman Jared Spurgeon, the team captain, missed the first 13 games with an upper body injury and has no points in six games since his return. The Wild’s penalty kill is last in the league with a woeful 66.7% success rate.

Adding to the misery on Monday was a two-game suspension issued by the NHL to center Ryan Hartman for a tripping foul in the last game.

Still, it’s early enough that the Wild can turn this around and climb back into contention for the playoffs. They’ve reached the postseason in 10 of the last 11 years. Eighth-place Seattle is just 8-9-5, seven points ahead of Minnesota.

Hynes is 284-255-63 in eight NHL seasons. The Predators fired him on May 30, six weeks after missing the playoffs. They lost in the opening round in each of three previous years, starting in 2020 when he was hired midseason to replace the fired Peter Laviolette. The Devils fired Hynes about a month before he was plucked off the market by the Predators.

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AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno contributed.

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AP NHL: https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL

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