“People ask ‘how’re you doing’ and it’s like, what would we have to complain about,” smiled Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “We’re doing a job that we absolutely love.”
Last summer, the Admirals were in search of a head coach. The 2011-12 season saw the departures of two coaches. The man who started that campaign off as head coach, Kirk Muller, became the head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes very early into the season. Immediately stepping into the fire for Muller was Ian Herbers. The season would come to an end in a first round playoff defeat to the Abbotsford Heat. Herbers then took to a head coaching opportunity with the University of Alberta. Prior to that season the Admirals enjoyed eight seasons with two brilliant hockey minds running the ship, Claude Noel and Lane Lambert. Stability was needed. And it was found from NHL veteran Dean Evason.
Evason on his time in Milwaukee:
Before his time with the Ads, Evason enjoyed a highly successful seven-year run with the Washington Capitals as an assistant coach. In five of those seven seasons the Capitals made the playoffs. He coached under three different head coaches while in DC: Glen Hanlon, Bruce Boudreau, and Dale Hunter. Having coached for such a high-powered and successful NHL team for as long as Evason did, one wonders, why depart as an assistant coach of an NHL team in favor of being a head coach of an AHL team?
Evason on his move from Washington to Milwaukee:
In his first season at the helm, the Ads managed to fight back into the playoff picture and finish with a 41-28-4-3 record. The team’s 89 point finish just narrowly trumped the divisional rival Rockford IceHogs’ 87 points for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
With a full season under his belt, Evason’s Ads are currently sixth in the AHL’s Western Conference with an 11-5-4-1 record good for 27 points in 21 games. More than a full-year into the Evason era in Milwaukee – what do the player’s think about their head coach?
When speaking to these players, in particular, much was made of the level of respect Evason has for his players and the players for Evason. There sounds like a balance of keeping the room light and laughing as well as getting serious and prepared for battle. For Evason, this is where his time as a player of sixteen professional seasons and as a coach meet head on.
Evason on the working atmosphere:
The players also shed some light on Evason’s ability to balance the serious side with the lighter side of hockey.
Henderson on Evason:
Hellberg on the lighter side of things:
Jarvinen on the serious side of things:
Beck on screwing up:
Valentine on Evason:
Just as is the case with the player development with the Ads, where the main goal is to reach the NHL, the same can just as easily be said when it comes to the head coaching position. Peter Horachek was the head coach of the Ads during the 2002-03 season. Horachek is the current head coach of the Florida Panthers. Claude Noel was behind the bench for the Ads from the Calder Cup season of 2003-04 to 2006-07. Noel has been in charge of the Winnipeg Jets since their return to the NHL. Is such an achievement, being an NHL head coach, on the mind of Dean Evason?
Evason on NHL coaching aspirations:
What are your impressions of the team since Evason joined? How do you feel he has done compared to previous head coaches with the Ads?