The stars have aligned and Kurt Kleinendorst will finally join the Wild organization.
Once a finalist for the Houston Aeros job, the Wild has hired the Grand Rapids native to coach the Iowa Wild, the team’s American Hockey League affiliate that has relocated to Des Moines and will begin play in the fall, multiple sources have said.
He will be introduced by Iowa General Manager Jim Mill at a news conference in Des Moines at 1 p.m. Monday. Mill has long been a fan of Kleinendorst, who coached Mill during the former goaltender’s first year as a pro in 1992 for the East Coast Hockey League’s Raleigh Icecaps.
This is why I reported Kleinendorst would be the frontrunner the second John Torchetti stepped down last month to take a high-paying, three-year contract as Sergei Fedorov’s head coach for Moscow in the Kontinental Hockey League.
Kleinendorst was a finalist for the Houston job in 2010, but General Manager Chuck Fletcher hired now-Wild coach Mike Yeo for the Aeros’ post instead. Coincidentally, Kleinendorst was hired by Ottawa to coach the Senators’ AHL affiliate in Binghamton and guided the team to a Calder Cup by beating Yeo’s Aeros.
Kleinendorst, 52, spent nine years as an assistant coach and scout for the New Jersey Devils. He won a Stanley Cup as Larry Robinson’s assistant in 2000. He is known to be fair but demanding, intense and a teacher. He will coach Yeo's system in Iowa so there can be an easy transition to Minnesota for callups.
The former Providence College standout forward was an All-American and Hobey Baker finalist playing for Lou Lamoriello in 1983. He was drafted by the New York Rangers in 1980 but never played in the NHL.
He has also coached Lowell of the AHL, guided the United States to the gold medal in the Under-18 world championship in 2010 and most recently coached the University of Alabama-Huntsville for a year.
By the way, I will be filling in for Paul Allen on Monday morning from 9-noon on KFAN. Tentative guests include Zach Parise, Jamie Langenbrunner and Matt Hendricks.