Jul 19, 2018

By Tom Witosky

Follow @toskyAHLWild

Tim Army may not have sought out becoming the head coach of the Iowa Wild, but he sure wanted the chance when he got the offer.

 “I want to take what I have learned over the last few years as an assistant and blend with my years when I was a head coach in the past,” the 55-year-old Providence, R.I., native explained Thursday. “I thought for a while I would like to become a head coach again.”

Minnesota Wild General Manager Paul Fenton announced Army’s hiring Thursday just a week after Derek Lalonde became an assistant coach for on Jon Cooper’s staff with the Tampa Bay Lighting. Lalonde posted an overall 69-58-25 record over two seasons, but failed to make the AHL playoffs.

Army said he talked with Fenton on Friday about the job and received the offer on Monday.

“Actually, I was digging up a tree at home when Paul called and offered me the job,’ Army said.

Tom Kurvers, the Iowa Wild’s general manager, said Army was on the list of potential replacements for Lalonde from the moment Minnesota learned of the possibility of a change. Kurvers, a former Tampa Bay executive, knew of the Lightning’s interest in Lalonde prior to becoming the new assistant general manager for the Minnesota Wild and Iowa’s general manager.

“There was a period of time from when Tampa first reached out to Derek and when he took the job, so we had been working on dealing with that,” Kurvers said. “I have the original list of the names we would look at and Tim was on it. He wasn’t a late addition.”

Kurvers got to know Army when he was an assistant coach with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (now Anaheim Ducks) and Kurvers “was in the process of playing my way out of the NHL” during the 1994-95 season.

“Tim lives and breathes the game,” Kurvers said. “But not just the game. He lives and breathes competition. He is a good person. He is a good family man. He is committed to this lifestyle. He brings energy every day. He has that in him.”

Army said his respect and familiarity with Fenton and Kurvers made his decision a lot easier.

“I know we will work very well together,” Army said. “We have intersected paths for many, many years and I am thrilled to be with them and thrilled with their trust. It will be a close working relationship.”

Army also brings a lot of family history in the AHL to the table.  His grandfather, George Army, was the trainer of the AHL Providence Reds from 1936 to 1969. During that period, the Reds won four Calder Cup championships. In addition, Tim Army’s son, Derek, just recently retired from hockey after playing 91 games in the AHL with six teams, including two seasons with the Milwaukee Admirals.

“The Army name has a long history in the AHL and I’m really proud of that,” Iowa’s new head coach said.

Army’s first head coaching job was with the Portland Pirates of the AHL, where he built an overall record of 99-89-26-6 in 240 games, reaching the Calder Cup playoffs twice.

Army said when he talked with his son about taking the Iowa job, Derek said he thought Des Moines was a great city.

“Derek also said the Wild’s arena is a close to an NHL arena as there is in the American Hockey League,” Army said.

Army’s second stop as a head coach was at his alma mater, Providence College, where the team had winning conference seasons in two of the six seasons, but had difficulties in his last three season. Army said that disappointment has wrangled at him at times, but also provided him with some insight about how to improve as a coach.

“I am a different person now than I was,” Army said. “I am more patient. I am competitive like everyone is in this business. I want to win every night, but I have a much more patient and positive approach to it now.”

Army said he has learned to emphasize a positive approach for players and to work on their shortcomings as part of helping to develop them into NHL quality players.

“I think every coach goes through it where there are times when you work in reverse,” he said. “You work on the deficiencies and the positive is in the background.  I think now the approach should always be about positive steps and working to correct the deficiencies within that context.”

Army, who spent last season as an assistant coach for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and six previous seasons as an assistant with the Colorado Avalanche, said while he was reluctant to leave the Penguins organization, he believes a similar synergy exists in Minnesota between the parent club and the minor league club.

“When the affiliates are close and share the same name and colors, it allows the fans in the minor league market to connect with the parent team. When you have guys going to Minnesota, the folks here are proud of that,” he said.

Army said that kind of relationship also contributes to a sharing of the same goal.

“The goal is for the Wild to win the Stanley Cup and the American League team has a great responsibility for making that happen,” he said, adding that a successful, playoff-tested team will help that effort while also solidifying the Iowa club with the local fan community. “Making the playoffs is very important for us here in Des Moines, it is very important for the organization and it is important for all of our players to develop in the heat of that kind of competition.”

With six weeks left in the off-season, Army said he will be busy finding a place to live in Des Moines with his wife, Sue. Army said this will be the first time he has lived in the Midwest, but that he and his wife aren’t unfamiliar with winter.

In addition, he said he will be talking with members of the Wild coaching staff including Associate Coach David Cunniff and Assistant Coaches Brett McLean and Keith Paulsen.  Army credited Lalonde and his staff for the success of the last two seasons.

“Derek Lalonde and his staff did a terrific job the last two years,” Army said.  “The organization is moving in the right direction and we are going to work hard to continue to build off all of Derek’s hard work over the last couple of years. It is a great challenge to build on top of that hard work.”

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