Fletcher, Yeo look to the future of the Wild

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Minnesota Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher and head coach Mike Yeo met with the media Friday to discuss Yeo's recent contract extension and the direction of the team.

When Fletcher hired Yeo, he had two goals for the first-time NHL head coach: win hockey games and develop the young players.

Those goals, it would seem have been met with flying colors.

Yeo has led the Wild to the playoffs twice in his three seasons – after the squad had missed the postseason for five consecutive years – and led them to the second round for only the second time in team history. He has posted 104-82-26.

The young players also took big steps, especially in the playoffs. Players like Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, Nino Neiderreiter, Erik Haula and Darcy Kuemper emerged to help lead the team into the second round.

"We've started to create an identity of being a hard working, fast and resilient team," Fletcher said, during the press conference. "That has been very critical to our success, in establishing that identity. We've also become a team that's won a lot of hockey games and we've done so while playing a lot of young kids – all of whom have developed nicely under Mike and his staff's direction. We couldn't be happier."

Fletcher added that Yeo had earned the contract extension with a lot of blood, sweat and tears.

While Yeo said the recognition for the good season has been nice, he is not satisfied.

"The next step for us is to continue to come out and continue to chase our goal and our ultimate goal is to win a Stanley Cup," said Yeo. "We want to bring the Stanley Cup to the State of Hockey."

Yeo acknowledged that will take a lot of work, but said he thinks they have a team that is very committed to winning.

The players have been recovering from the long season. According to the Star Tribune, Keith Ballard had surgery on a sports hernia, but he should be ready for the start of training camp, while Erik Haula's broken jaw did not need surgery, he is expecting to be good to go in a couple of weeks.

Hockey Wilderness reports the Wild may carry three goalies next season. Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher said they expect Josh Harding to be ready for training camp in September.

He added that Niklas Backstrom is feeling "Better now than he did at any point last season," and Darcy Kuemper showed a lot of promise for the future, with his play during the second half of the year.

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