West Valley City
Since being named coach and general manager of the Utah Grizzlies, Tim Branham has done everything except paint the team’s locker room.
He’s done that, too.
Branham was hired by the Grizzlies in July. He relocated to Utah in August and has not stopped working since making the 20-hour drive to Salt Lake City from his home in the north woods of Wisconsin.
"It’s been a lot of fun, to be honest," Branham said. "There has been a lot of travel involved and a lot of phone calls. But we’re here and settled in."
Branham, 32, has attacked his first head coaching job like a hockey team on the power play.
Two days after being hired, he held a 90-minute town hall-type meeting with season-ticket holders and sponsors.
Two weeks later, Branham finalized a new affiliation with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks.
Next, Branham tackled the daunting task of recruiting players, signing them and building an entire roster in time for training camp Oct. 6.
On other fronts, Branham visited amateur hockey leagues and teams scattered across the state, promoting his new team.
He also grabbed the aforementioned paintbrush and did some touch-up work in the Grizzlies’ locker room and his office at the Maverik Center.
Finally, Branham helped move furniture into the team apartments where his players will live for the next seven months — nine if the Grizzlies go as far in the playoffs as their coach hopes.
Asked about his multi-tasking, Branham laughed and said, "We’re in the minors, so coaches wear many different hats. You do what you can do."
The whole idea behind the "slight" changes he made in the Grizzlies’ physical facilities is the creation of a championship atmosphere. Remember, Branham was an assistant coach at Reading (Pa.) last season, when the Royals rolled to the ECHL title.
"I want the players to enjoy coming to the rink," Branham said. "... We want a professional environment so the players are comfortable and act accordingly."
In the rare moments away from hockey since joining the Grizzlies, Branham and his wife have continued preparations for the arrival of a baby, who is due in February.
The Branhams look forward to playing Utah’s golf courses and exploring its hiking trials — with the family dog, of course. They have already attended Real Salt Lake and Salt Lake Bees games.
"We’re outdoorsy people," he said.
Building the Grizzlies, however, has become a priority.
"It will be nice when we get everyone here," Branham said. "Sometimes you look a certain way on paper, then it’s not the same in person. But I think we’ve put together a great club."
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