Hired last month as the Utah Grizzlies' new head coach/general manager, Tim Branham was introduced on Wednesday to local media and season ticket holders. Branham, 32, was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in 2000. From Eagle River, Wis., he played for several minor league teams, mostly in the ECHL and AHL. Since 2003, he has owned and operated the Branham Hockey Camps, a school that develops youth hockey players. Branham's previous job was as an assistant coach for the Reading Royals, which won the ECHL title last season. Aaron Morton covered the conference at the Maverik Center for the Deseret News.
Q: What's on your list of things to tackle first?
A: My first order of business is to find an affiliate (the NHL's Anaheim Ducks). Now that that's done, it's just constant recruiting. My family just moved out here a couple of nights ago. (We) still need a place to live. Other than that, it's just recruiting — recruiting character players, players that want to develop, that want to get to the next level and that want to win and be successful and that want to be involved in the community.
Q: What kind of style can fans look for?
A: Fast pace. We want players to get up and down the ice. Puck possession, in your face, tough to play against — that's what we're going for every night. Players that will be working hard not only on the ice, but also off the ice, getting out into the community and make this place their own. Those are the kind of high-character players we want to bring into this locker room. Those are the players that get the job done come playoff time.
Q: What were the keys you learned in turning around Reading, coaching there as part of its staff?
A: It's all about structure. At this level, you pick your own team, so it's very important to bring in the right players. You lose so many players throughout the season, whether its injuries or call-ups, that you constantly have to have a Rolodex of players that can come in and fill the void. That's why you need good leadership, so when those new players come in, it's a smooth transition for them.
Q: What sold you on coming to Utah?
A: I played here a few years back, in the ’08-’09 season (with Reading). It's beautiful. The first thing you notice is the mountains, and the area is just gorgeous. These facilities are phenomenal. I had heard throughout the league that the people associated with Utah, the management, (CEO) Kevin (Bruder), was top-notch, and once I met them, that was definitely confirmed. It made my passion to come here even stronger.
Q: You run a youth clinic back home (Eagle River, Wis.). What kind of youth development are you going to bring here?
A: I'd like to be involved with youth out here. I think it's important. I definitely want our players going out to practices or running practices, I think it's great. Every kid who comes out here and watches the game idolizes these players, and the difference you can make in their lives is huge.