Things seemed bleak in mid-February when John Torchetti took over as the interim head coach of the Minnesota Wild.
They had just fired Mike Yeo after Minnesota had lost 13 of 14 games – their prospects of reaching the Stanley Cup playoffs seemed to be quickly fading.
Enter Torchetti – immediately the Wild went on a four-game winning streak and bounced back to win enough games to get the #8 spot in the NHL's Western Conference.
But following their Game 6 loss to the Dallas Stars in the first round did Torchetti do enough to earn the right to have the interim tag removed? It's a tough question and there are a lot of differing opinions.
Had the Wild failed to make the playoffs, Chuck Fletcher's decision to part ways with Torchetti would have been relatively easy. Had the Wild beaten the Stars, Fletcher's decision to keep him, probably would have been equally as simple.
If it were up to him, Torchetti told reporters Sunday he'd like to be back.
"That's up to [management and ownership] to decide," Torchetti said. "I just know that coming into this building, it's a lot of fun working here. And there are some good players here, some good young players who are going to be great players as we move along."
The case for Torchetti
- Led the Wild back to the playoffs
- Helped guide Minnesota on four and six game winning streaks
- Even without Zach Parise and Thomas Vanek had the Wild milameters away from Game 7 against Dallas
- Was able to get more out of some of the young guys like Nino Niederreiter, Mikael Granlund and Erik Haula
Developing the young players is one of the major reasons that 1500 ESPN writer Dan Myers believes Torchetti should be given a shot.
"In 10 weeks under Torchetti, Minnesota's young core of Niederreiter, Haula and Granlund showed more rapid developmental progress than they had in all of their time under Yeo. It's these guys, along with Brodin, Scandella and Charlie Coyle, that could very well decide the direction of the Wild."
The case for someone else
- The Wild dropped five straight to close the regular season
- Even under Torchetti the results were very uneven
- Another early exit from the playoffs
The general consensus is that Torchetti likely won't be back, though. The blog Hockey Wilderness suggests that a search for a new coach could se the direction for the team going forward.
"The Wild will conduct a search for a new head coach. The decision will undoubtedly change the trajectory for this franchise. There is talent on this team and it will be up to the next bench boss to allow that talent to blossom."