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Ex-Hawks assistant John Torchetti has Wild on the rise

MINNEAPOLIS — John Torchetti helped the Blackhawks win a long-awaited Stanley Cup as an assistant coach in 2010. Now he’s trying to do the same as the Minnesota Wild’s interim head coach.

So far, so good. The Wild, whose free-fall led to Mike Yeo’s dismissal, are 4-0 under Torchetti, including Sunday’s 6-1 annihilation of the Hawks.

“I think it’s up to [the players], it’s not me,” Torchetti said. “That’s the bottom line. Once you make a commitment as a teammate and your other teammates see you play at that level, then it’s up to myself and the other players to hold everyone else accountable to that style of play.”

In eight short days, the Wild went from afterthoughts to one point out of a wild-card spot.

“It’s been a roller coaster for sure, from losing to Boston to [Yeo] getting let go, to Torch coming in, and us winning three on the road, and then coming home and having this big stage,” defenseman Ryan Suter said. “It’s been quite the roller coaster. I like where we’re at right now.”

Between a busy schedule, travel, and the extracurriculars that come with hosting an outdoor game, Torchetti hasn’t even had a chance to hold a typical practice yet. But the players are buying in. The Hawks aren’t surprised.

“He’s one of those guys that brought me and [Jonathan Toews] on the ice early in our careers before practice to work on some things,” Patrick Kane said. “He has a good offensive mind for the game and I really liked him as a person, too.”

Outdoor fatigue
Toews admitted that the outdoor game probably meant more to the Wild than the Hawks, who have been in four of them now, and three in the last three years.

“[But] these are big games for us, too,” he said. “I don’t want to forget about the importance of that, but they’re playing with a lot of desperation and we knew we had to try and match that. We didn’t quite do it.”

Weather or not
There was a little bit of snow falling in the first period, but other than that, the weather was ideal, and the players had no complaints about the ice or the conditions.

“They were pretty good,” Corey Crawford said. “I would say they were maybe a little bit different than a regular game. With that, too, there’s no excuses. That team over there played well and we just seemed like we didn’t have anything going all game.”

Goph figure
The Wild have three former Golden Gophers on their team, and all three registered a point at TCF Bank Stadium, the home of the University of Minnesota’s football team. Erik Haula had a goal and two assists, Thomas Vanek had a goal, and Mike Reilly had an assist.

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com
Twitter: @marklazerus