The Dallas Stars have made their first official "big" move under the new Jim Nill era, as they have relieved Head Coach, Glen Gulutzan and Asst. Coach, Paul Jerrard. Coaches, Curt Fraser and Goalie Coach, Mike Valley will remain in their positions.
It's important to use the term "official," as it comes to no surprise to anyone who has been watching the Stars for the last few years and their postseason vacancy that a move was going to be made as soon as Joe Nieuwendyk was replaced by Nill.
After having a very successful minor coaching career (only missed the playoffs once in 8 years), Joe Nieuwendyk brought Gulutzan up from the Texas Stars to man the bench in Dallas. After losing in the Calder Cup Finals and West Division Finals, the future looked to be very bright under the young coach. However, after two consecutive playoff misses and a combined record of 64-57-9, the writing was on the wall so to speak when Nill was questioned about the coaching situation at his introductory press conference.
"I'm going to be patient and not make any hurried decisions. I expect this process to take approximately two weeks," Nill said.
Glen's contract was set to expire at the end of the playoffs this summer.
Paul Jerrard was brought in a defensive "guru," that just never lived up to the expectations. After playing mostly in the minors, he took a couple of jobs as an assistant in the minors and back with his college team at Lake Superior State University. He had his first taste of a NHL bench in 2004 when he joined the Avalanche. The following year, he returned to the AHL to join the Hershey Bears.
A cumulative plus/minus of -32 last season with the Stars along with a mediocre penalty kill was Jerrard's undoing in Dallas.
Now the speculations will begin to swirl as to who will replace Gulutzan as head coach. The obvious names are Lindy Ruff who is currently coaching Team Canada after being shown the door in Buffalo and Alain Vigneault who is currently still under contract with the Vancouver Canucks, but after three years of failing to bring Vancouver their first Stanley Cup, the rumors are starting to fly that his tenure with the Canucks may be at an end.
There's no doubt that the Stars were going to make a coaching move and I feel this is the right one. Glen and Paul just simply were not getting the job done. Granted, the team they were given was one that was pieced together during bankruptcy, however, after being in the thick of a playoff race, only to fade off towards the end ultimately will fall on the coaching staff, especially when a new general manager is brought in. Stars fans should be pleased, however that Jim Nill is not sitting around. He has seen enough of this team during his time with Detroit and he is looking to make immidate changes to return the Dallas Stars to their playoff glory of the late-90s and early-2000s.