03/28/2014 12:06 PM
By Tom Witosky
Follow Tom @toskyAHLWild
The Man Behind The Video
Tim Flynn could see it coming.
A short pass from Iowa Wild defenseman Steve Kampfer to Kris Foucault along the boards followed by a quick pass to Stephane Veilleux to the left of Grand Rapids goalie Petr Mrazek.
As a Griffins defender tried to catch-up to Veilleux, the veteran forward feathered the puck to Carson McMillan who slammed the puck past Mrazek from just outside the goal crease.
“Yeah,” Flynn, the Wild’s 30-year-old coach said quietly while watching the screen of his office laptop just off the Wild’s locker room. “That’s the way it is supposed to work. It sure feels like a while since we got the first goal.”
Just before the ensuing faceoff, Flynn punches a couple of keys on the computer keyboard to make sure that the video of McMillan’s goal is appropriately catalogued and then noted a line change on the computer.
While Head Coach Kurt Kleinendorst and Assistant Coach Steve Poapst are behind the bench during each Wild game, the 30-year-old Flynn watches from his office where the combining of computers and video replay technology is on display.
On his desk is an office laptop where Flynn closely watches each game and every few moments bookmarks game segments by line, special team or zone. As backup, Flynn also has a widescreen television mounted in an office corner and listens to Joe O’Donnell’s radio broadcast of every Wild game.
“Joe helps me keep track of what lines are out there,” Flynn said.
As the Wild’s video coach, Flynn’s job is to oversee the videotaping of each Wild game and use replay to provide the coaching staff and players with immediate analysis between periods of how the team is playing and what can be done to improve it during games.
“We only have 18 minutes at intermission so the video gives us instant access to as many situations as possible to analyze,” Flynn said. “Kurt usually talks to the team with about 10 minutes left, so we have about eight minutes to make adjustments.”
Kleinendorst says that Flynn’s video work is invaluable to helping develop players and helping to win games. He also can’t fathom how hockey coaches did their jobs back in the day when there was no video replay.
“I’ve always had access to this and we think it is a great tool that we are always looking to expand,” Kleinendorst said. “It is a great asset in helping us to do what we are here for – to help develop our players into professional hockey players capable of playing in the NHL.”
Kleinendorst said after each period he can look at any aspect of the game that might need correcting or adjustment to what the opponent is doing on the ice.
“If I want to look at forechecks, I can look at them almost immediately by just pushing a hot key,” Kleinendorst said. “The same thing for neutral zone play, line rushes, power plays, penalty kills. There is a hot key for every part of the game we have.
Flynn said that the intermission meetings focus mostly on how well Iowa is executing its game plan both in terms of structure as well as how they are playing on special teams. Opponent goals also are reviewed.
“We look at as much as we can with the amount of time we have,” Flynn said. ”It is always about making some kind of adjustment.”
During last Saturday’s first period against the Grand Rapids Griffins, there was a lot to like from the Wild’s play. McMillan’s power-play goal at 4:40 had been followed at 9:39 by a goal by Foucault, who tipped a shot from Kampfer just underneath Griffins goalie Petr Mrazek’s pads.
Although the Wild would eventually lose 3-2 to the Griffins, Flynn said that the players had done well executing the game plan.
“Our focus was to get pucks deep and on goal,” Flynn said, adding that keeping it simple was also important.
“Basically we are keeping it simple because there is a lot of overthinking right now,” Flynn said. “The guys are feeling a lot of tension and that might be unjust, but they are putting it on themselves.”
Among his duties after games, Flynn catalogues the entire game within minutes and downloads each shift’s playing time onto two computers in the players’ lounge. Each player has a folder on the computer desktop, which allows them to review how they played once they arrive for practice the next day.
Kleinendorst said that giving players immediate access to game video saves time for each player as well as provides each player with season’s worth of tape that can be reviewed at any time.
“All players have stretches where they perform well so it would be easy to watch those to see how they did it. But they will have stretches when things don’t go as well,” Kleinendorst said. “Now, they can sit down and try to analyze why their numbers fell off and have ability and access to look at what they might do to play more consistently.”
Flynn said that players often meet with him to discuss what they are seeing and how to approach changes and even sometimes during games.
“Having video allows us to make quick changes,” he said. “That kind of immediacy can have impact.”
Flynn’s other duties include preparing scouting reports on opponents. To prepare those reports, Flynn reviews and catalogues video from the opponent’s three previous games.
“Teams change a lot because of injuries and call-ups so we don’t go back too far,” he said. “We need to know what they are doing now as opposed to a month ago.”
In his first season of professional hockey, Flynn brings an interesting mix of hockey experience, having coached at several Division III schools in his native Massachusetts, then becoming Director of Hockey Operations at the University of Alabama-Huntsville. Having a bachelor’s degree in marketing, Flynn also used his time at Huntsville to earn an MBA degree.
But his first love is hockey and that is where he wants to stay.
“I figured out after high school, I wasn’t going to go very far playing hockey, but the game is where I want to be for a long time,” Flynn said. “I love the video part of it and interacting the players and staff. Going on the fly, making decisions quick. I like that side of it.”