Tim Army has a pretty good “in” with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
He’s known the head coach since they were kids.
Army was named the new assistant coach for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Thursday, joining head coach Clark Donatelli and fellow assistant J.D. Forrest. Army replaces Chris Taylor, who assumed the head coach job with Rochester this summer.
Army, 54, and Donatelli, 49, both hail from Providence, R.I., and have been friends since childhood. The two have played against each other at the college level, and Donatelli’s first coaching job was as an assistant under Army at Providence College in 2010-11.
Army said the chance to work with Donatelli again was a key factor behind his decision to join the Penguins coaching staff.
“We have a great relationship. He’s impressed me in how instinctive and intuitive he is as a coach,” Army said. “I’m real excited to help him and work for him. That was a great draw.”
Army joins the Penguins with 29 years of coaching experience in the NHL, AHL and NCAA, most recently spending the past seven seasons serving as an assistant coach with the Colorado Avalanche.
Last season was a tumultuous time for Colorado, beginning in August with the sudden departure of head coach Patrick Roy, followed by a league-worst regular-season record of 22-56-4. Afterward, Army and all three Avalanche assistants were let go.
Army called the season a “great learning experience.”
“It was a difficult year for us in Colorado. This is a clean slate, a new opportunity with a tremendous organization,” Army said. “I’m excited to be a part of an organization with a tremendous amount of success.”
Army spent three seasons (2002-05) as head coach of the Portland Pirates of the AHL, compiling a 99-89-26-6 record in 240 games. During that time he became familiar with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and the community both by playing at the Mohegan Sun Arena and from one of his players, former Penguin Darcy Verot, who always spoke highly of Wilkes-Barre.
“I always enjoyed going to that (Mohegan Sun Arena) building. It was a fun place to come in to,” Army said. “The team has always been very much a part of the community in Wilkes-Barre, and the community always reciprocated that.”
As a coach, Army is a firm believer in the importance of team speed — a facet the Pittsburgh organization has emphasized. In Colorado, Army said, speed was lacking.
“Being in an organization that had success with speed is exciting,” he said. “It’s tremendously deep and you see the benefits of it in Wilkes-Barre.”
Before his coaching tenure, Army played one season in the AHL with the Maine Mariners, recording 27 points (11G-16A) in 68 games during the 1985-86 campaign. He was also a four-year letterman (1981-85) at Providence, serving as the Friars’ captain during his senior season. He was a Hobey Baker Award finalist and the first recipient of the Hockey East Scoring Champion Award in 1985.
Army said he has been watching video to become familiar with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s style of play and will be meeting players in the near future.
“It’s a fresh start professionally with a different organization committed to player development and winning,” Army said.
Other staff additions
Seamus McKelvey was named head athletic trainer for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton while Mike Joyce was hired as the team’s strength and conditioning coach.
McKelvey spent the last season as the assistant athletic trainer for the Providence Bruins. He earned his undergraduate and master’s degree at East Stroudsburg University and worked on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton training staff as a graduate assistant in 2012-13.
After graduating from ESU, he spent one year as an athletic trainer for Neumann University and then became the head athletic trainer for the Wheeling Nailers from 2014-16.
Joyce, originally from Scranton, graduated from Marywood University in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and a minor in nutrition. He spent the last year assisting the Penguins as an intern under the tutelage of former strength coach Doug Davidson. Joyce is also a certified USA Weightlifting Sports Performance Coach.