Derek Damon has been named the new head coach and general manager of the Iowa Heartlanders, the Coralville-based hockey team announced Tuesday, July 5.
Former coach and general manager Gerry Fleming, who served the team in its inaugural season last year, has announced he will seek a coaching opportunity overseas in Europe.
Mr. Damon was the Heartlanders’ assistant head coach in the team’s 2021-22 inaugural season and helped lead Iowa to 29 wins, which included an above .500 record after December. He was also one of the masterminds behind the Heartlanders’ power play, which finished second in the league with 65 goals.
“My family and I are amazed at the support and outreach from the community, Deacon Sports & Entertainment and our affiliates, the Minnesota Wild and Iowa Wild,” Mr. Damon said in a release. “I’m thrilled to accept this opportunity. We expect to build off our strong end-of-season run. We have started putting pieces in place that will make us a competitive, skilled and physical team on the ice in year 2. I’d also like to thank my friend, Gerry Fleming. Our tireless work last season established the culture in Iowa that will be instrumental in helping to continue our growth on the ice and in the community here in The Corridor.”
“Derek proved last season he has the right keys to take over the Heartlanders and lead the team to a championship,” Mr. Fleming said. “The Heartland will always hold a special place for me, and this is the right time for me and my family to transition back to coaching in Europe. I’d like to thank all our great fans and partners that have helped our hockey operations staff and our front office build this team from the ground up.”
“Derek was instrumental in so much of the success we had on the ice in 2021-22, and it is clear to myself and the entire group at Deacon Sports & Entertainment that he is ready for the opportunity to lead our hockey team,” team president Tom Hamilton added. “Not only is he an excellent coach and hockey mind, but he and his entire family have already left a positive imprint in the communities here in The Corridor. With three months until the start of the season, we could not feel better about the direction of our team on the ice with Derek at the helm.”
Mr. Damon made the transition to coaching in 2020-21 as assistant with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL). He is a native of Bangor, Maine, and made four NCAA tournaments and two Frozen Fours at University of Maine, including the Hockey East championship in 2004. He skated as a forward in 784 games over 14 professional seasons, and was coached by Mr. Fleming with the Florida Everblades of the ECHL, formerly known as the East Coast Hockey League, from 2006 to 2008.
The Heartlanders have launched a search for the team’s next assistant coach.