Kurt Kleinendorst 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 professional game.
“Talk about landing on my feet,” said the Grand Rapids, Minn., native who was introduced as the first coach of the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League on Monday.
Jim Mill, general manager for Iowa, the Minnesota Wild’s top farm team, played for Kleinendorst in 1992 for the then East Coast Hockey League’s Raleigh Icecaps. “He taught me how to be a great pro,” said Mill, adding Kleinendorst will teach the Wild prospects how to be “great professionals.”
The 52-year-old Kleinendorst, who won a Stanley Cup as an assistant with the New Jersey Devils in 2000 and a Calder Cup as head coach of the AHL champion 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.”
Both the United States and Canada announced its summer orientation camp rosters Monday for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Wild players Zach Parise and Ryan Suter were among 48 players invited to the American camp next month in Virginia, but Canadian-born Jason Pominville, who has competed for the U.S. before in international play, was not.
Other Minnesotans, besides Parise, invited are defensemen Dustin Byfuglien, Justin Faulk, Jake Gardiner, Erik Johnson, Nick Leddy, Paul Martin and Ryan McDonagh; and forwards David Backes, Nick Bjugstad, Kyle Okposo, T.J. Oshie, Derek Stepan and Blake Wheeler.
Last month, Finland invited the Wild’s Mikko Koivu, Niklas Backstrom and Mikael Granlund to its orientation camp, and Sweden invited Jonas Brodin. The Wild’s Nino Niederreiter also is a lock to make Switzerland’s team.
The NHL will go on an Olympic hiatus for 17 days in February.
• Pominville, who sustained a late-season concussion, says he is symptom-free. He also says talks for an extension have not begun with the Wild. The former Sabres captain is entering the final year of his contract.