Kurt Kleinendorst has spent virtually his entire coaching career in the pros, so he knew “very quickly” after arriving at the University of Alabama-Huntsville last year that he wanted to get back to the pro game.
“Talk about landing on my feet,” said the Grand Rapids, Minn., native who was introduced as the first coach of the Iowa Wild, Minnesota’s new American Hockey League affiliate, Monday.
Jim Mill, Iowa’s GM who played for Kleinendorst in 1992 for the then East Coast Hockey League Raleigh Icecaps, said, “He taught me how to be a great pro” and Kleinendorst will teach the Wild’s kids how to be “great professionals.”
Kleinendorst, 52, who won a Stanley Cup as an assistant with the New Jersey Devils in 2000 and a Calder Cup as head coach of the Binghamton Senators in 2011, said he will “mirror” the system deployed by Mike Yeo in Minnesota so “my group is going to have to be ready for the call.”
He said his first priority is to develop the Wild’s future, but “I believe in winning. … This group come season’s end will be humming.”
Kleinendorst, who will begin work to fill out his staff, called Des Moines a “hidden gem. … We are going to do Des Moines proud.”
For more on Kleinendorst's bio, see the previous blog. Here is the official press release.
Also, Canada announced its Olympic summer orientation camp roster (can be seen here) Monday and the United States' for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi can be seen here.
Zach Parise and Ryan Suter each are on the U.S. roster. Jason Pominville did not get the invite, surprisingly. He is Canadian born but has dual citizenship and has competed for the U.S. in the world championships. I question this omission. Just a guy with a history of 30 goals, one who plays in every situation and one who can skate well on the big rink.
By the way, I corresponded with Pominville today and he said he is completely symptom-free from his late-season concussion. There have been no extension talks yet. The former Buffalo Sabres captain is entering the final year of his contract. As you can see, some of the forwards that got invited over Pominville are arguably, well, absurd. But, the USA brass made it clear they would be looking to put players on the team that can play certain roles, so perhaps they look at Pominville as a top-6 role, not bottom-6, and they feel they have four top-6 wingers that are better.
Still, curious they don't even bring him to camp.
I had Parise on the radio this morning on KFAN, incidentally. It was a real good interview, and to hear that as well as my interviews with Mill, Jamie Langenbrunner and Matt Hendricks, go to KFAN's web site here.
Minnesotans invited: Dustin Byfuglien, Justin Faulk, Jake Gardiner, Erik Johnson, Nick Leddy, Paul Martin, Ryan McDonagh, David Backes, Nick Bjugstad, Kyle Okposo, T.J. Oshie, Derek Stepan and Blake Wheeler. With Parise, that makes 14.
Last month, Finland invited Mikko Koivu, Niklas Backstrom and Mikael Granlund to its orientation camp and Sweden invited Jonas Brodin. The Wild’s Nino Niederreiter is also a lock to make Switzerland’s team.
The NHL will go on an Olympic hiatus for 17 days in February.
More from Russo's Rants
The Wild and Haula beat a Sunday arbitration decision by settling on a new contract.
Hockey Day Minnesota was officially announced Thursday and a Stadium Series news conference has been scheduled for next week.
If the sides go through with arbitration and don't settle before a decision, the arbitrator will pick a figure selected by one side -- or something in between.
Eleven of the games are on NBCSN, with the Stadium Series game on NBC. Three of the five Wild-Blackhawks games this season will be on NBCSN.
The Wild and Fox Sports North are expected to announce this week that Hockey Day Minnesota will be at Bayfront Park in Duluth