It’s been a few weeks since the Dallas Stars made it official that Glen Gulutzan would not be back behind the bench to coach the club for a third straight season. And new Stars General manager Jim Nill has been adamant from the start that he would leave no stone unturned as he looked for what he terms the right person for this job. Well, with that being said, several potential candidates have emerged, so here’s a look at the pros and cons of each candidate.
Current gig: Unknown, was former head coach of Chicoutimi of QMJHL until July 2011, when he resigned.
PROS • Would be an immensely popular hire with Stars fans since he’s a link to the 1999 Stanley Cup-winning team.
• He definitely knows what winning organizations look like from his time both in Dallas as well as his time with Montreal.
• Has NHL head coaching experience from his tenure coaching the Canadiens from 2006 through 2009.
CONS • Hiring him based on his ties to ’99 Cup team might be popular with fans, but that fact alone doesn’t make him a great choice for this job.
• Is fairly settled in Quebec with his family and would likely be more than a bit reticent to uproot them and relocate to Dallas.
• Other than returning for alumni events occasionally, hasn’t been around organization much recently and might not have great feel for where the club is headed.
Current gig: Head coach of Texas Stars of American Hockey League
PROS • Has solid reputation of working with young players, both in AHL and NHL. Was named 2013 AHL Coach of Year with Texas Stars.
• Knows Stars organization quite well after joining the club in the final year of the Marc Crawford era, when he was hired as an associate coach.
• Is a solid hockey man who knows the game from his time coaching at the collegiate, junior and professional level. He has a great and broad range of experience, which will give him plenty of experiences to draw upon.
CONS • A general lack of NHL coaching experience. Desjardins had one year behind the Dallas bench with Crawford and another with Gulutzan, but that’s about it.
• Veterans might not respond well to a guy with no NHL playing experience and also to someone with relatively little coaching experience in the league to speak of.
• Stars have already gone this route with hiring of Gulutzan and fair or unfair to Desjardins, it’s unlikely they’d employ a similar approach yet again.
Current gig: Head coach of the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League
PROS • Has instant credibility of someone who had a long and productive career as a player in NHL and who also has some NHL coaching experience, gained as an assistant coach with the Maple Leafs a few years back.
• Preaches the fundamentals and the merits of team defense, a process starting from the crease and working out.
• Possesses a great reputation for working well with young players and many credit his influence on several Toronto youngsters to the Leafs returning to the playoffs in 2013.
CONS • Besides his short stint with the Leafs, he has no NHL coaching experience to speak of.
• He is characterized as a player’s coach and after Gulutzan, who was portrayed in similar fashion failed in Dallas, it’s doubtful the Stars would go in a similar direction this time around.
• Club just went through two years of hiring coach from AHL with no NHL head coaching experience and since move didn’t go so well with Gulutzan, it’s hard to envision Stars’ brass, even under new leadership, taking the same approach yet again.
Current gig: Associate coach for Detroit Red Wings
PROS • Since he currently works for Detroit organization, has obvious ties to Nill and looks to be someone the new Stars GM is quite comfortable with.
• Has a reputation as a great teacher of the game, a skill that will never fall out of demand.
• Does have NHL head coaching experience from stops with Canucks, Rangers and Oilers.
CONS • Doesn’t have much playoff experience to speak of as he has taken his teams to the playoffs just three times, all coming with the Rangers in a three-year span.
• Even with his reputation as a great teacher, he was fired by the Oilers in May 2012, a team that has been in a full-blown youth movement for seemingly the last few years.
• Always seemed a bit overmatched as an NHL head coach but could still be a top assistant for whoever the Stars do decide to hire.
Current gig: Unemployed, was fired by Sabres in February 2013.
PROS • Would have instant credibility with both veteran and younger players as he has been successful in the NHL as both a player and as a head coach.
• Displayed incredible longevity in remaining in Buffalo for over 14 years in an era where NHL head coaches get replaced on a quite regular basis.
• Had success both in the regular season, leading Sabres to a pair of division titles, as well as in the playoffs, leading them to one Stanley Cup Final and three trips to the Eastern Conference Finals.
CONS • Success seemed to come in spurts in Buffalo as Sabres would have great seasons for few years and would then miss playoffs for several consecutive seasons.
• His abrasive style caused him to lose the locker room late in his tenure in Buffalo and ultimately led to his dismissal in February.
• Would Stars fans be able to let go his famous “No Goal” claim of Brett Hull’s Cup-clinching goal in the ’99 Finals? It’s hard to say. Dave Tippett
Current gig: Head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes
PROS • Definitely has a wealth of NHL head coaching experience, gained from his time both in Dallas and Phoenix.
• While his grind it out style of play might be extremely tough to watch at times, he is clearly a coach who can get the maximum performance out of his players, a good example being him leading the Coyotes to the West Finals in 2012.
• His teams have been characterized as highly disciplined and are not squads who make stupid and costly mistakes, something which has recently been an issue in Dallas.
CONS • Tippett seems to have settled in nicely with the Coyotes and with their recent ownership issues reportedly resolved, would he leave the desert?
• Even though most of the faces up front have changed, the Stars are still the same organization that fired him not all that long ago. Does Tip have a short memory or not?
• Bringing back the former Stars head coach might not be a popular move with local hockey fans and while fan sentiment about a potential coaching hire can’t be the sole factor to give a thumbs up or thumbs down on such a decision, it has to be considered as the Stars continue to battle for butts in seats.
Current gig: Unemployed, fired by New York Rangers on May 29, 2013
PROS • Is only member of candidate pool to win a Stanley Cup as a head coach, doing so with Tampa Bay in 2004.
• Has been pretty consistent over his career of leading teams to the playoffs, guiding the Rangers to the postseason in four of his five seasons in the Big Apple.
• Is regarded as one of the great hockey minds in today’s NHL.
CONS • Despite having a wealth of playoff experience, six of the eight playoffs teams he’s coached have failed to advance past the second round.
• He clearly lost the team in New York or was about ready to, which proves his abrasive style has a very short shelf life.
• Occasional outbursts, whether directed at media or at league while complaining about officiating will give the Stars some publicity but not the sort of pub the organization would want.
Current gig: Unemployed, fired by Vancouver on May 22, 2013.
PROS • Vigneault has a solid NHL coaching resume from his time behind the bench in both Montreal and Vancouver.
• He had incredible regular-season success with the Canucks, leading them to six division titles in his seven seasons and two Presidents’ Trophies.
• Also has a wealth of coaching experience in the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.
CONS • Even with all those trips to the playoffs in Vancouver, his teams only advanced past the second round once, in 2011 when the Canucks made their second-ever appearance in the Cup Finals, where they lost to Boston.
• It seemed like Vigneault was a chronic tinkerer when it came to line combinations and defensive pairings. He just never seemed to be able to find trios and pairs he could stick with, which leads to a lack of continuity and an unclear defining of roles among players, both of which can become an issue over the course of a season.
• He never seemed to be able to get the most out of his players during his time in Vancouver. The Canucks were always regarded as one of the most talented teams in the NHL and they had the high payroll to back that up. But for whatever reason, whether it was Vigneault’s coaching or not, they never even came close to reaching their potential.