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Wild’s Mike Yeo Deserves New Contract

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May 12, 2014

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Wild coach Mike Yeo’s job status drew speculation in recent months but with Minnesota’s impressive Stanley Cup playoff run this spring it will be a major surprise if he doesn’t return for the 2014-2015 season.  Yeo’s current contract reportedly ends this year.

Tom Reid, who played more than 11 seasons in the NFL and now is the Wild’s radio analyst, likes Yeo’s performance.  “I expect Mike and the entire coaching staff to be back,” Reid told Sports Headliners. “They’ve done a good job here.”

Yeo, who had never been an NHL head coach previously, was hired at 37 years old to lead the Wild starting with the 2011-2012 season.  Minnesota made the playoffs last season but lost in five games to the Blackhawks who went on to win the Stanley Cup.

This year more was expected from the team and coach. “They went through a couple hiccups along the way (this season) but I think for the most part Mike has learned an awful lot,” Reid said.  “I like the way he’s managed behind the bench. The (line) combinations he’s put together.”

Reid said the young coach shows an ability “to read” players well.  “He’s certainly learned much better bench management than he had when he first came in,” Reid said.

Yeo has juggled goaltenders but often been successful during the season and playoffs.  The team’s overall defense has been a factor in the Blackhawks series holding Chicago to between 19 and 22 shots in the first four games.  Impressive, too, has been the development of inexperienced players like Mikael Granlund and Jared Spurgeon.

Yeo is the NHL’s youngest head coach.  He has had the Wild in the playoffs the last two years after a five year absence.  “With coaching it’s no different than being a player,” Reid said. “You’re a rookie when you come into it and you have to learn the ropes of what has to be done and how you conduct yourself on the ice.”

The Wild lost 2-1 last night in game five and now trail the Blackhawks 3-2 in their second round best of seven series.  Minnesota is back home for game six on Tuesday night.

The team has shown persistence under Yeo, recovering from 2-0 series deficits first against the Avalanche and now with the Blackhawks.  Even if the Wild season ends on Tuesday night, expect Yeo to return for a fourth season with a new contract.

Worth Noting

Metro area Culver’s Restaurants will donate 10 percent of sales today to the Randy Shaver Cancer Research and Community Fund.  Culver’s is a longtime sponsor of the fund and from May 5-19 is giving customers a $1 coupon in return for a $1 donation.

Randy Shaver, the KARE 11 news anchor and cancer survivor, was an all-state high school cornerback in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  High school football has long been a “passion” and he was Benilde-St. Margaret’s freshman team head coach for four seasons before resigning last year.

Why did he give up the position?  “I have a mom who is very sick right now with a rare head and neck cancer,” Shaver told Sports Headliners.  “I didn’t want to get too involved with something and not be able to fulfill the commitment because I think her situation could change this year. There’s a lot of other factors too but that’s part of it.”

Shaver’s son Ryan Shaver is a TV sportscaster in Mason City, Iowa.

It might not be that much of a stretch to think Teddy Bridgewater, the Louisville quarterback who the Vikings chose with the No. 32 pick during round one of last Friday’s NFL Draft, could have played for the Gophers.  Louisville head coach Charlie Strong was defensive coordinator at Florida in 2007 and may have been a finalist to replace Gophers head coach Glen Mason in January of that year.  Strong was later hired at Louisville and he successfully recruited many Florida high school players including Bridgewater.

Bridgewater was the third quarterback taken in the first round and at one time there was speculation he would be first.  Will being passed over by so many teams provide motivation? “You can bet that,” Bridgewater said last Friday. “I talked with (Vikings) coach (Mike) Zimmer awhile back when I came here and he told me he loves guys that play with a chip on their shoulder.  So after having that conversation with him and just experiencing last night, I’m glad to be a Viking, but you can best believe I’ll play with a chip on my shoulder.”

Vikings’ NFC North rivals Chicago and Green Bay selected defensive backs in the first round.  The Bears chose cornerback Kyle Fuller from Virginia Tech. “My favorite cornerback in the draft,” ESPN analyst Jon Gruden said on Friday night.

The Packers, in need of a turnover causing defender in the secondary, chose Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

ESPN showed Mel Kiper’s draft grades for all NFL teams last night including a “B” for the Packers and “B-minus” labels for the Bears, Lions and Vikings.

The Vikings lost five games in the closing minutes last season.  This message is displayed at the team’s indoor practice facility: “Tough teams win in the fourth quarter.”

Ra’Shede Hageman and Brock Vereen were chosen on the second and fourth rounds last weekend, becoming the first former Gophers to be taken in the NFL Draft since 2010 when Eric Decker and Nate Triplett were selected.

Ex-Gopher Derrick Engel, the team’s best wide receiver last season, is still recovering from ACL surgery and although he wasn’t drafted last weekend NFL teams have interest.

The Twins demoted shortstop Pedro Florimon to Triple-A Rochester last week because he was hitting .108.  His lifetime major league average is .207.  Twins pitching great Jim Kaat’s career batting average was .185.

The last Gophers national championship baseball team was honored at Siebert Field on Saturday. Players from the 1964 team were recognized before Minnesota’s home game with Purdue.  Minnesota also won NCAA titles in 1956 and 1960.

Jay Buckley’s Baseball Tours, based in La Crosse, is promoting a September 13, 14 and 15 trip making stops in Milwaukee for the Brewers-Reds game, in Green Bay to see the Packers and Jets, and ending in Chicago to watch the Cubs and Reds.  More at Jaybuckley.com.

The Lynx, who have media day today, will have nine games televised on Fox Sports North including next Sunday’s regular season home opener at Washington.

Cross country and track and field standout Kristina Poss will be one of three students in the 2014 St. Catherine senior class to graduate as valedictorian.  A chemistry major, she will begin medical school next year at Minnesota.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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