PC NAMES TIM ARMY NEW HOCKEY COACH

Eleven years after failing to get their man when the PC hockey job was last open, PC has finally sealed the deal to bring home one of the cornerstones of its brightest seasons. Beginning June 17, 2005 the Tim Army Era begins at PC. Army will become the 8th coach of the Friars in the modern era.

In naming Army head coach, PC, for only the second time in school history, have brought back a former player to be their coach. The last former player to be installed coach became PC's most successful hockey coach, Lou Lamoriello. Army is also the first player to have played in Hockey East (1984-85 season) and become a head coach in the league (note: this means strictly on the men's side—on he women's side the trend to former male players has been happening the last few seasons, the first was former BU goalie Bob Deraney when PC named him their women's team head coach in 1999)

"We are excited to have Tim Army leading our men's hockey program," Athletic Director Bob Driscoll said. "He has experienced success as an athlete and as a coach at all levels. Tim brings extensive knowledge and strong teaching skills to the position. In addition, he is a part of the tremendous tradition of Friar hockey and he will take great pride in moving the program forward."

"I'm honored and thrilled to return home to Providence College," Army stated. "I look forward to the challenge and the responsibility of directing the great traditions of our hockey program."

The name Tim Army brings instantly to mind images of March 16, 1985. It was on that day that PC captured the first Hockey East title. Army as team captain played a major role in that win. He was the man who set up the overtime game winner by linemate Steve Rooney. It is these fond memories which have brought renewed hope of success and a return of the program to the level last few years of the Lamoriello era.

"I've known Tim since I recruited him and coached him at Providence College," New Jersey Devils CEO/President and General Manager Lou Lamoriello said. "He has grown into an outstanding young coach. He understands the philosophies of the College and the values of a PC education."

Like Lamoriello did when he took over in 1968, Army has a mammoth job in front of him. PC has struggled, slipping lower and lower since their last NCAA appearance. While Army might represent the glorious past it should be noted when Lamoriello took over the program was, like now, at a low point. It took Lamoriello 5 years to even get his first 19 win season and 8 seasons to make the NCAA's (note: only 4 teams went to the NCAA's in those days—now 16 teams go). Many of the issues that Lamoriello had to overcome in some form are the same ones Army will have to overcome.

Still the Army track record has been of success wherever he has gone. He came to PC from East Providence High School for the 1981-82 season. There he had been a 2 time all state selection and the Providence Journal's male student athlete of the year. Army was part of Lou's best recruiting class (a class that included former Mountie Paul Guay, Natick's Rich Costello, and long time NHL defenseman Peter Taglianetti, and of course the player who never made it Bobby Carpenter). Despite a very talented group of forwards on that squad Army saw regular duty as a freshman as the third line center. The following year he took part in his first Frozen Four and was teamed up with his linemate for the next 3 years Steve Rooney. With Lou's departure and the graduation or departure of several key forwards to the Olympic team Army became the second line center as a junior for new coach Steve Stirling. That season saw him score 20 goals. In his final season he was the newly formed Hockey East's leading scorer (27 goals, 47 assists, 74 points). That total for points has only been surpassed in a season at PC by Ron Wilson's All American sophomore season in 1974-75. As a reward for his fine season Army was named 1st team All Hockey East, All-American, and winner of the Walter Brown award. For these efforts Army is a PC Hall of Famer.

"I can't think of anyone more deserving of this job than Tim Army," San Jose Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson stated. "Tim is a tireless worker who has a tremendous amount of coaching experience. He is the perfect person to come in and reenergize the Friar hockey program."

Army was taken in the 9th round by the old Colorado Rockies. By the time he joined the organization they had moved to New Jersey. Tim spent the 85-86 season in the Devil's system with the Maine Mariners playing 68 AHL contests and scoring 11 goals. He moved on to Peliitat in Finland's Division 1 league the following year before returning to PC.

The first return to PC was in the fall of 1987 when Tim Army joined then 3rd year coach Mike McShane's staff. (Present UNH coach Dick Umile was the other assistant). McShane was in the process of rebuilding the program he had inherited. After struggling in Army's initial season as assistant, the team enjoyed a very successful run for the remainder of Army's years in his first stint as a PC coach. In the 20 years since Army graduated that stretch was the only time the team won 20 games four straight seasons. The last time previous to that stretch where that happened was by Tim Army's graduating class from 1982-85.

Another major accomplishment of Army's in that stretch was his responsibility for being the top recruiter for the program. PC brought in some of their finest players ever during his time at PC. Included in that would be 2 of PC's 4 200 point players, Mike Boback and Rob Gaudreau, NHL players Craig Darby and Chris Therien and reliable performers like Lyle Wildgoose, Mario Aube and Bobby Cowan. Some things have changed in the recruiting field since he left, more emphasis is placed on the junior leagues then on high school and there are fewer true freshmen being brought in (especially at a program's like PC's) to name a couple of examples. Still a look at where these players he brought in came from might indicate PC will look more thoroughly at other areas to bring in players. PC has had few players from Minnesota since Army's departure, Wildgoose was one of the last players from Ontario, and Aube one of the last (if not the last) from Quebec.

Army's first at PC also saw the team make the NCAA's twice (at a time when the number of teams was only 12 teams). The 1989 team came came up 1 game short of returning to the Frozen Four, losing the third game of a second round best of 3 series to Maine. The team returned to the NCAA's in 1991 and were eliminated when they lost a first round best of 3 series at the University of Minnesota.

After the 1992-93 season the NHL came calling in the form of former Friar great Ron Wilson. The NHL had expanded and Ron had been named the head coach of the fledgling Anaheim Might Ducks. The duo remained their till Wilson was relieved of his duties in 1997. However, when Wilson landed a job with the Washington Capitals the following season, he brought with him his able assistant. That first season saw the pair steer the Caps to the Stanley Cup finals. Their run in Washington lasted through the 2001-02 season. When Wilson was let go, Army was retained and assigned to the head coaching position of their AHL team, the Portland Pirates.

The past three season have seen Army be the head man for the first time. While it is not the same as being the head coach of a college team it did provide a good basis to learn the ropes of the X's and O's of coaching. Washington has not been a successful season in the years following the 1998 season so Army was never given much talent to work with. However Army has kept his team competitive. They made the playoffs two out of three years and hovered around 500 all three years (Note: with overtime losses included its odd to call his record above but they clearly mark the losses OTL's and not L's).

For Friar hockey fans the hiring represents the best case scenario that many have wanted the past 11 years. In fact many times if you struck up a conversation with fellow fans during a game at Schneider the conversation inevitably turned to thoughts of would it be possible for PC to now bring back Tim Army. The series of events was triggered by Dave Poulin's resignation as Notre Dame's coach. Notre Dame decided the best man for the job was Jeff Jackson. Jackson had had a successful run with Lake Superior State where his top assistant was Paul Pooley. Pooley, finding himself squarely on the hot seat, decided that a change of scenery would do his career wonders. Three weeks ago Pooley resigned.

The first order of business for Army will be to get his coaching staff in order. The situation has the potential to be a little awkward. David Berard is the associate head coach and was considered the other top candidate. In his time at PC Berard has done all that is expected of an assistant and in many cases he would have been the natural choice to succeed Paul Pooley. Still while Berard has a great feeling for the college game as its played now, the contacts to continue bringing in talent to PC, and an understanding of present day PC his resume does not match Army's.

Another adjustment Army will need to make is that this is the first time where he has full say in everything that happens. As a minor league coach he is very limited in that respect. The NHL team (Washington) got him the players they wanted to play. They would also dictate often how they wanted players played as it would benefit the top team in the long run. Now as head coach Army is responsible to decide what players he really wants to zero in on. He will also dictate the style of play. Finally as coach he will be responsible for the team discipline.

In regards to recruiting PC has actually lost 2 players since the end of the season which are presently not being replaced. Goalie Dave Coacciola chose not to play his red shirt season and Vince Goulet chose to leave following his freshman season. This means PC does not have 3 goalies and lacks some forward depth. They also only have one verbal for the class they will be assembling next season. Many teams are already working on getting verbals for the following year. The disruption caused by the change may not be that devastating since the senior class is small and mainly role players. However it is a good chance to upgrade the talent on the team.

The next issue is that Army can prove the title that is often associated with his name. Everywhere he's been he has been called a player's coach. One constant gripe by the fans was that PC played an inflexible system that revolved around a trap that limited offense. The key will be for Army to take his defensive first philosophy and integrate a strong offensive system within it. This will require that he can build a system which plays to the best talents of the players he is able to bring in. Critics of Pooley often cited his inflexibility as a major flaw in the team's play. If Army can prove to show the ability to adapt to the hand he is dealt he should be more successful. It is also hoped that the major element of being a minor league coach will aid Army in the development of his players. Another major fault of Pooley's has been the general lack of improvement by his players as they get older. Army is considered to be solid teacher and it will likely mean an improvement in the skill sets his players possess.

Over time Army will also have to deal with issues that bring the buzz back to the program. During his playing days there was a lot more excitement both among the students and the local fans. That has faded and has often left upwards of a thousand seats empty every game. Hopefully with the enthusiasm of a new coach Army can be a catalyst to bring upgrades to the fitness center and to Schneider, which unfortunately is not much different then when he played there. These upgrades will make him more competitive to bring in a class like the recruiting class he was a member of. Army also represents the Friar's past and hopefully it will be a step to bringing that past back to the fold.

The task in front of Tim Army will be large and the pitfalls many. However if his past track record is any indication becoming the head coach is the perfect first step on the road back to glory. It certainly gives hope that like in 1983 and 1985 when Tim's teams returned from the Frozen Four we will once again have a time when fans will be waiting for the team to return at Schneider.

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