Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Vancouver Canucks part ways with assistant coach Mike Yeo

While Rick Tocchet had wanted to keep the coaching staff intact, one assistant coach has already left the Canucks.
Mike Yeo will no longer be an assistant coach for the Vancouver Canucks.

The coaching staff that orchestrated the Vancouver Canucks' turnaround in the 2023-24 season will look a little bit different next season.

Assistant coach Mike Yeo won't return, as the Canucks announced that he and the team have "mutually parted ways." The Canucks reportedly offered Yeo a contract extension but it either was not deemed sufficient or Yeo is seeking another opportunity, possibly both.

Yeo has two stints as an NHL head coach, heading up the Minnesota Wild from 2011 to 2016 and the St. Louis Blues from 2017 to 2018. He also served as an interim head coach for the Philadelphia Flyers during the 2021-22 season. There is currently one job vacancy in the NHL at head coach — the San Jose Sharks — though that can always change quickly given the frequent firings of coachs in the NHL.

It's somewhat surprising to see the Canucks make a change to their coaching staff. Tocchet frequently mentioned Yeo as an important sounding board for ideas and Yeo was frequently the one to draw up plays during key moments. 

In fact, at the team's end-of-year media availability, Tocchet suggested they were unlikely to make any changes on the coaching side of things.

"We talked yesterday, Patrik and I, to try and keep [the coaching staff] intact," said Tocchet.

Yeo joined the Canucks under head coach Bruce Boudreau in July of 2022 but stayed on when Boudreau was let go and replaced by Tocchet. While the Canucks' large coaching staff has overlap in their responsibilities, Yeo was primarily responsible for the penalty kill.

While the penalty kill was a disaster in Yeo's first season with the Canucks, finishing last in the league at 71.6%, it improved by leaps and bounds this past season. That said, "leaps and bounds" means it jumped up from last in the NHL to middle of the pack, finishing 17th in the league at 79.1%. 

With Yeo gone, the penalty kill will fall on someone else's shoulders. The penalty kill is typically part of the portfolio of the assistant coach in charge of defence, so Adam Foote will presumably take on that duty.

This leaves the Canucks with just one full-time assistant coach in Foote. Sergei Gonchar is still only with the team in person part-time, Ian Clark is focused on goaltending, Yogi Svejkovsky is a skills coach who doesn't step behind the bench, and the Sedin twins are in a development role, working with the Canucks in practice in Vancouver but also helping the team's prospects in Abbotsford.

Assuming the Canucks hire a new assistant coach, it's fair to wonder if they will take on the power play, which faltered down the stretch and went missing during much of the playoffs. The power play was run directly by Tocchet himself, with input from Gonchar, the Sedins, and Svejkovsky.

Tocchet expressed skepticism that coaching was the issue for the power play, saying it wasn't about plays but about the players being connected.

"You're looking at all options; the power play is obviously something that we've got to look at," said Tocchet, adding, "I think it's a pretty knowledgeable staff. I don't think you need — me personally, if there's a guy out there that I feel is the guy, I would look at [him], but I don't know if that's the case here, personally."