Dallas Stars Coaching Candidates: Kirk Muller

Age: 45
Playing Career: 1980-1984 (OHL), 1984 - 1991 (NJ Devils), 1991 - 1995 (Canadiens), 1995 (Islanders), 1995 -1997 (Maple Leafs), 1997 - 1999 (Panthers), 1999 - 2003 (Stars)
Coaching Career: 2005 - 2006 (OUAC), 2006 - Present (Asst. Coach, Canadiens)

Playing Career:

Early in his career, Muller was considered a very capable and dangerous scoring forward, topping  35 goals three times between 1987 and 1993, topping 20 goals in eight of nine seasons. He had a career high of 94 points twice, in 1987-88 with New Jersey and in 1992-1993 in Montreal.  After the shortened 1994 season, Muller was never able to regain his scoring touch, scoring 20 goals just once in his final 10 NHL seasons. 

Drafted #2 overall in 1984, the first pick after Mario Lemieux, Muller was considered the heart of the Devils franchise almost immediately after making his NHL debut. The Devils never contended with Muller, however, and he was traded to Montreal where he would go on to help the Canadiens win the Stanley Cup in 1993. The middle of his career was a bit controversial, when he refused to report to the New York Islanders when he was traded in 1994. He played just 12 games for New York, and was eventually barred from team activities. He then flat out refused to play, and was then traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs

It wasn't until Muller was signed by the Dallas Stars that Muller's career was revived somewhat. Not asked to be a scoring winger, Muller was part of the fan-favorite "grumpy old men" line along with Mike Keane and John MacLean. He retired in 2003.

Coaching Career:

Muller has just been a head coach once since retiring from the NHL, coaching the Queen's University Golden gaels from 2005 to 2006, with a record of 8-13-1-2. He has been an assistant coach in Montreal since the 2006-2007 season. During his time as coach in Montreal, the Canadiens have won their division once and made the postseason in four of five seasons. In 2009-10, the Canadiens made it to the Eastern Conference Finals before being ousted by the Philadelphia Flyers.

How he fits:

Muller's name has been prominent when it comes to coaching vacancies this offseason, but we'll have to wait to see just how serious NHL teams are about courting him until after the Canadiens' season is over. Muller is one of a few assistant coaches who are thought to be next in line for NHL head coaching jobs and his time in Dallas -- and playing with Joe Nieuwendyk -- creates an existing connection. Montreal was initially a high-scoring team during his time as coach, but recently have become a much more defense-oriented franchise behind the play of a stingy defense and great goaltending. It's unknown at this point exactly what sort of "style" Muller would prefer, but his time as a player shows someone who knows both sides of offense and defensive prowess.

He'd certainly bring a much-needed energy to the Dallas Stars, as Muller is an intense coach who knows the game very well. His energy and drive could be exactly what the Stars are needing from their coach right now.

How he doesn't fit:

Muller has just one season as a head coach of any team, anywhere, and that was for an obscure college in Canada. He's been an assistant coach for five seasons now, and it's the logical step for Muller to make the move to head coach soon, but you wonder if Nieuwendyk would prefer a coach that has proven the ability to connect with his players as the actual head coach of the team. Aside from Willie Desjardins, he's the likely choice for Nieuwendyk of current NHL assistant coaches and his "hot commodity" status in the NHL right now could play into the decision as well.

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