- The Washington Times - Friday, June 17, 2005

The Washington Capitals organization has another vacancy after Tim Army resigned yesterday as coach of the club’s top minor league affiliate to become coach at Providence College.

“He’s one of the finest people you can meet in the sport,” Caps general manager George McPhee said. “Providence College made a great decision. He is a smart guy with excellent character and values.”

Washington has moved its American Hockey League farm team from Portland, Maine, where it had been for 12 seasons, to Hershey, Pa. Army, a Providence graduate and All-American who scored 74 points in his senior season of 1984-85, said the move had nothing to do with his job change.

“This just sort of happened,” he said yesterday. “I had always thought I might return to Providence, but it wasn’t something I thought about actively. But if there was any college job I would want, that was it.”

McPhee said he did not have a candidate in mind to replace Army, who had been a member of the organization since 1997.

“There are lots of qualified people; it’s just a matter of finding ideally someone with a Washington or Hershey connection,” McPhee said. “If that doesn’t work out then we would open it up to a broader field.”

Army had a three-year record of 99-89-32-20 at Portland, but his final season (34-34-6-6) was tough to judge. He had a dozen former first-rounders during the season, but his team was the youngest in the AHL and was waylaid repeatedly by injuries. A top farm team is normally judged by call-ups and their contributions, but the NHL lockout meant that couldn’t happen.

“We were disappointed [Portland] didn’t make the playoffs, but the players developed well,” McPhee said. “There were times we could have added a couple veterans to the team to maybe earn a few more points in the standings, but that would have pushed some of the young guys down or out of the lineup. We played a lot of young players this year, and by January a lot of them were turning the corner and improving. And that’s the objective.”

The loss of Army leaves the Caps with just two members of the coaching staff under contract, head man Glen Hanlon and goaltending coach Dave Prior. The status of assistant Jay Leach, who worked with Army in Portland last season, was uncertain yesterday.

Like many teams, the Caps have let many positions remain vacant because of the league’s prolonged labor dispute. The players were locked out Sept. 15, and while some progress has been made, the end of the dispute is not in sight.

Washington let four employees go at the end of the 2003-04 season and did not fill other spots when they became vacant. Those include two and possibly three assistant coaching spots with the main team, head and assistant coaching spots with Hershey, a physical conditioning coach with the main team and other administrative positions.

Rumors about a possible replacement for Army began to circulate immediately, but none was thought to be on the Caps’ shopping list. Dale Hunter, a 19-year pro who had his number retired by Washington and now is a highly successful major junior coach in Ontario, has been mentioned prominently. So have former Caps Rod Langway, Dave Poulin and Kelly Miller. Poulin recently stepped aside as coach at Notre Dame. Langway and Miller have coached off and on since retiring as players.

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