With just under seven weeks remaining in the offseason, Wild.com's Dan Myers will catch up with all three head coaches in the Wild organization. Earlier this week, he chatted with Iowa Wild head coach Tim Army.
Earlier this week was a chat with Allen Americans coach Steve Martinson and yet to come is a conversation with Minnesota bench boss Bruce Boudreau.
Army, who will begin his second season as Iowa's head coach this fall, helped lead the AHL's Wild to its first-ever playoff spot in the spring. Iowa advanced to the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs, before exiting in six games against the eventual Western Conference champion Chicago Wolves.
Dan Myers: By the looks of soclal media, you've been busy doing some traveling this offseason. Where have your travels taken you?
Tim Army: Well, Sue and I went to DisneyWorld about a week after the season. I'm a Disney nerd, for lack of a better term, I love Disney in general and have always. So for years, we'd travel there with the kids. We love their movies and the theme parks, but this is the first time just my wife and I went. It was a little different way to go because we weren't running around trying to do every ride. This was more enjoying Epcot and taking it all in, really.
We also went to Iceland. That was our family vacation. We went over there June 30 and came back on Independence Day, and we took the whole crew; my wife and I, my oldest boy and his wife, and my youngest son and his girlfriend. We did a glacier hike, which is absolutely fascinating and that was great. Iceland is a beautiful country and my wife has always wanted to go. We wanted to take everybody, but it's so hard to coordinate everybody's schedules. We just were able to do it this year and we had a great visit.
DM: Once you're able to come home from some travels, is that when you're able to sort of turn the page on last season and start looking forward to a new year? When does that happen for you?
TA: I think it kind of blends. I would say for me, probably around early July that you start to plan for the upcoming season, in a sense that I'm evaluating last year and transitioning to the new year. But it's always sort of part of it because you're always referencing it as you look toward the upcoming season.
When I got back [from Disney], I was following the Stanley Cup Playoffs really closely, as well as the American League playoffs. I always like to look at the dynamics in a variety of ways and I'm very engaged in that, but I kind of put our year away at that point. Then, you go to the draft and development camp and I think that's when you start to re-shape and re-focus on the upcoming season. That's the end and the beginning.
DM: Your captain last season, Cal O'Reilly, left the organization and signed in Philadelphia. In addition to trying to replace his production on the ice, how big of a loss will he be in the dressing room?
TA: He was a terrific professional, and he was outstanding with our young guys. He was a guy they looked up to, he led them and they responded to him. He also brings a lot on the ice. He's one of those classic centermen, I like to call them half-court centermen, today's game is such a north-south game ... he's that classic 2-on-1 centerman that makes everybody else around him better.
There was a lot that Cal brought to our team on a daily basis both in the room and off the ice. As we go forward, we're not going to have one player replace what Cal brought in the room or on the ice, but I think collectively, I think we're going to have a really good leadership core of some guys that have played a lot of hockey.
DM: In terms of the July 1 guys that were brought in, what can you tell fans about Gabriel Dumont and Luke Johnson?
TA: I'm always careful about answering this, because those guys will come to Minnesota and try and make the team up there out of training camp. We want them pushing to make the big Wild.
In terms of what kind of players they are, Dumont comes with a great deal of experience. He's always been a captain and he's a leader, and he's a very competitive player. He's honest. We want to be on the press all the time, we want to put teams under duress and under pressure and that's his game. He's also got some skill. He's put up some really good numbers at the American League level, and he's been an effective player in the National Hockey League.
Johnson plays with a great deal of pace along the lines of a [Mason] Shaw, for instance. He's in the middle of everything. He's got good stick skills, he's got some goal-scoring instincts and it felt to me this year, playing against him when he was in Rockford, he played in the guts of the ice. He scored a handful of goals against us because he's right in front of the net.
DM: What is the organization getting in new Iowa assistant coach Alex Tanguay?
TA: We had a great relationship ... I was fortunate enough to coach him for three years in Colorado with [Patrick Roy]. He got traded at the deadline that third year but we had a great relationship. He loves hockey, he's wanted to get into coaching and he's a very upbeat guy, very personable, he's got a great sense of humor and he's got a smile on his face all the time. He's gonna add to the culture that we have created. Most people would say, I'd think, that when they came to Des Moines last season, there was an energy in our room and I think he's gonna add to that because of the type of person he is.
He was also a guy that when he was playing, was very good with young players. At that time in Colorado, we had a young Ryan O'Reilly, and Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon. Tangs and Paul Stastny were a big piece of those guys continuing to develop, so he has that element about him.
When I coached Adam Oates in Washington, it was almost like he was playing the game and watching it on TV, with the way he could come back to the bench and describe what was happening and how he could process the game. Tangs is the same way. He's got a brilliant hockey mind, he's diligent and he's a good worker and so he's gonna bring all of that to our room, to our team and to our staff. It's an exciting hire.
DM: Alex was working at NHL Network last season. How did the opportunity to coach in Iowa come up? Did he call you? Did you call him?
TA: He'd been looking to get into it, although he liked what he was doing at the NHL Network. He had reached out to me, and I had already begun the process of interviewing a variety of candidates. He said, 'I'm looking,' and, 'If you hear of something or think of something, let me know.' I told him I was looking and asked him if he'd be interested and he said, 'I think I would be.' So I told him to think about it, give it a week, then we'd talk. So he did, he reached out to me again and he said he'd be interested.
After that, we talked to [Iowa GM Tom Kurvers] and I laid out the process for him. He was very excited, he wants to get into coaching and he offers a lot from that perspective. He's gonna be a great resource.
DM: With Brett McLean, who coached forwards the last couple of seasons, back for another year as an assistant, how do you plan on divvying up the coaching assignments on the bench?
TA: Mac is going to run the defense and he will run the power play, because I think he has a really good sense of ... some of the pieces we have coming back on our power play.
Another important thing to me is, as the head coach in Des Moines, I want everybody to continue to grow. Not just players, but coaches and equipment managers and trainers. Everybody wants to get to the National Hockey League, so I want everybody to continue to develop. I think for Mac, he's done the penalty kill the last couple of years, it's another way for him to expand and explore a different element to coaching.
Tangs will come in and work with the forwards and he'll do the penalty kill. He was unbelievable on the power play [as a player], but he was also a really good penalty killer because he's very smart. He's got some good thoughts about it. Our kill was very good last year, but we can always add some new wrinkles to it.
Catching up with coach: Checking in with Steve Martinson