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Wild name Grand Rapids native Kleinendorst as Iowa coach

Grand Rapids native Kurt Kleinendorst was hired Monday as the first head coach of the Iowa Wild, the new American Hockey League affiliate of the Minnesota Wild.

Kurt Kleinendorst
Kurt Kleinendorst

Grand Rapids native Kurt Kleinendorst was hired Monday as the first head coach of the Iowa Wild, the new American Hockey League affiliate of the Minnesota Wild.

Kleinendorst, 52, was University of Alabama-Huntsville coach last season, leading the team to a 3-21-1 record. Kleinendorst coached the Ottawa Senators' AHL affiliate from 2010-12 after working with the U.S. U-18 development team. Prior to that, he was a coach in the New Jersey Devils organization for nine years.

The Iowa Wild replace the Houston Aeros as Minnesota's AHL affiliate. John Torchetti was Houston's coach, but he left for Russia's Kontinental Hockey League.

"We are proud to have Kurt Kleinendorst as the first head coach in team history," said Iowa Wild general manager Jim Mill. "He was part of a Stanley Cup with New Jersey in 2003. He has a Calder Cup, a gold medal and a proven track record of developing young players for the National Hockey League. He also understands what the Minnesota Wild need from a development standpoint. I have known him for 24 years. Not only is he a good coach, but Kurt is equally a good person, which makes him the right choice to lead our team on and off the ice. "

Selected by the New York Rangers with their fourth-round pick (77th overall) in the 1980 NHL Entry Draft, Kleinendorst played professionally for six seasons. He played two seasons in Europe, one with Iserlohn (Germany) and Peliitat (Finland) in 1986-87 and one with the Rotterdam Pandas (Netherlands) in 1987-88. He played professional hockey in North America for parts of five seasons between 1983 and 1990 in the Central Hockey League, IHL and AHL.

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Kleinendorst played internationally for the United States during the team's pre-Olympic tour in 1984 and was a member of the U.S. National Team at the 1981 World Championship. He played four seasons at Providence College from 1979-80 to 1982-83 and was inducted into the school's athletic Hall of Fame in 1997. As a senior, he was selected to the NCAA All-American Team, named ECAC Player of the Year and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.

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