Head Coach | Providence ’83 | Grand Rapids, Minn.
Key Statistics: Since retiring from hockey in 1990, Kleinendorst has worked in the professional ranks as a general manager, assistant general manager, head coach, assistant coach, and scout for all but one season. That was in 2009-10, when he coached the U.S. National Team Development Program Under-18s, guiding them to the gold medal at the 2010 IIHF U-18 World Championships.
What He Does: Returning to the college game for the first time since 1983 when he was an All-American at Providence and finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, Kleinendorst has learned the craft from his former head coach with the Friars—current New Jersey Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello, one of the game’s great identifiers and developers of talent. “I know what it takes to help young guys develop and reach their goals,” said Kleinendorst, who comes to Alabama-Huntsville after two seasons as head coach of the American Hockey League’s Binghamton Senators, a team he guided to the playoff title in 2011.
The Bigger Picture: “I seem to be getting that question an awful lot,” the 51-year-old Kleinendorst said when asked why he took the job at Alabama-Huntsville, a school with a tenuous hockey future at the Division I level. After all, the Chargers won just two games last season, scored a scant 37 goals in 31 contests, and saw two top players transfer—forward Mac Roy (six goals last year) is at Robert Morris and goalie Clarke Saunders (.906 save percentage) is at North Dakota.
Still, Kleinendorst says situation isn’t as bleak as it appears. Indeed, the Chargers’ two wins came against Denver and Nebraska-Omaha, they tied Air Force, and had eight one-goal losses.
“There’s a lot of potential in this group,” he said. “Look at the players and the results from last year and you can see they’re not far off. I know what it takes to help young guys develop and reach their goals.”
The biggest challenges, according to Kleinendorst, will be recruiting—”I’ll surround myself with good people and find a way to get it done,” he says—and finding a league for the currently independent hockey program.
Kleinendorst on taking the Alabama-Huntsville job: “When I first got the phone call, I was intrigued. The more I dug, the more I realized this is a diamond in the rough. What coach wouldn’t want this challenge?”