Evason at the Helm

Photo Credit: Scott Paulus

“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?

Scott Valentine:

Taylor Beck:

Austin Watson:

Joonas Jarvinen:

Magnus Hellberg:

Kevin Henderson:

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?

4 thoughts on “Evason at the Helm”

  1. First off I love the post Daniel. Good to see a post with the break in play that the ads have right now. I have to say I absolutely love what Evason had to say about Milwaukee and living here. I had the chance to sit down with Dean and Stan and the trainer Doug Agnew in Charlotte last year when they had a weekend series there. I try and travel and see a couple Ads games every year and that was the destination last season. They are absolutely the most down to earth guys and will sit and talk hockey for hours. I truly applaud and respect them for that. On the hockey aspect of things I think they are doing an amazing job. It seems they really have control of the locker room and the players are all ears when they walk into the room. I would hate to see Evason go but I understand that is part of the business and wish him the best. I hope that time does not come anywhere in the near future. With all of the problems the Predators have had since the beginning of last season do you think it would be crazy to think Evason may get a look as the Preds bench boss or maybe an assistant? That is if they do end the Trotz experiment in Nashville. I know its next to impossible to predict Predator’s management next move (i.e. AWFUL contracts in the offseason for mid-tier players at best) but do you think this should be something they should consider? I would hate to see them lose guys like Fenton and Evason and even Drulia for that matter to other organizations so maybe it is time for them to bring in a new regime. At season’s end they should promote Drulia to head coach of the Ad’s and add a veteran assistant, bring Evason to the Predators in some form or fashion, and let Poile focus on USA Hockey and give Fenton a chance to shine. Who knows Fenton could be the next Ray Shero.

  2. I agree with Tony that Evanson and Drulia are doing a good job with the team. To still make the playoffs last year when the team was gutted due to Preds injuries was impressive. While the team’s play has been hills and valleys so far this season, I still think they are the right people for the job right now. I think he has control and respect of the team much more than Herbers did. That was a team full of different people, but Evanson did come in to a not-so-great situation.

    As for the Preds situation, that is such a cluster right now I’m not even going to guess at what is going to happen. There is definitely a growing chorus of people asking for the heads of Poile and Trotz, though. I do hope that if something does happen Evanson does at least get looked at for assistant, but I’m not sure that’s what he would want as he did that for 7 years with the Capitals.

  3. Tony and Fan in the Falls: All well said! I don’t know what the future holds as far as Trotz in Nashville. He’s certainly very well thought of and respected up there. For the sake of hypotheticals, let’s say they did give him the axe if the Predators season gets worse. Rather than reach outside the system I wouldn’t be surprised to see a guy like Lane Lambert given the reigns up top and the Ads coaching system remain intact. Drulia has also been a great coach with the Ads in his time here. I’m unsure whether or not he would consider leaving in favor of a head coaching position elsewhere. I feel Dean making his move from assistant in the NHL to head coach at the AHL says a lot about his future goals. I don’t expect him to take an assistant gig back in the NHL anytime soon (unless the role and opportunity is right). I think him building experience as a head coach with this team is as beneficial as a learning process as it is for the players. So far. So good.

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