The San Jose Sharks have called a press conference for today to introduce Mighty Duck assistant Al Sims as the team’s new coach.
Sims, 43, got the job ahead of former Boston and St. Louis coach Brian Sutter even though he has no experience as an NHL head coach.
“You just look at his resume; he’s really well-prepared,” said Shark General Manager Dean Lombardi, who wouldn’t officially confirm Sims as the team’s choice. “We looked at this really thoroughly and we’re happy with the decision we’ve made.”
Sims finished second to Ron Wilson for the Duck job three years ago after coaching the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Komets to the International Hockey League championship.
“That was really disappointing, but I think I’ll be a much better coach now after three years in the NHL and three years in the division,” Sims said, citing his knowledge of NHL players and experience dealing with star players.
San Jose management was concerned about Sims’ lack of name recognition and NHL head coaching experience, but he won them over. A Stanley Cup final matchup between Colorado, guided by second-year Coach Marc Crawford, and Florida, led by first-year Coach Doug MacLean, probably also helped to sway the Sharks.
“Everybody has seen what Florida has done with work ethic and discipline,” Sims said. “I think the biggest things I bring to the table and brought to the game as a player are work ethic and discipline, and a team-first attitude.”
Sims has been responsible for running the Ducks’ defense during games, but Wilson said defensive strategy and special teams’ play will continue to be duties shared by the entire coaching staff.
Assistant coach Tim Army will be promoted to No. 1 assistant, and Walt Kyle, coach of the team’s minor league team, the Baltimore Bandits, is a strong candidate to fill the other position, though Wilson said he and General Manager Jack Ferreira also will weigh other options.
“Things shouldn’t change that much,” Wilson said. “Certainly Tim would step to the fore as the right-hand man. He’s worked his rear-end off and he’ll get more responsibility because he’s earned it.”
The Sharks won only 20 games last season, falling to last place in the Pacific Division after managing surprising playoff success the previous two seasons. Kevin Constantine, the team’s first coach, was fired after a 3-18-4 start and minor league coach Jim Wiley guided the team the rest of the season.
“If Al gets the job, I think he’ll do a lot of the same things we do here in Anaheim,” Wilson said. “I think he’s seen what works, and we’re very similar in certain aspects of our franchises. I think he’ll try and employ a trap and simplify things. We’ll be dueling mirror images.”