According to multiple sources the Dallas Stars will hire Texas Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan to succeed Marc Crawford. Rumors had been swirling all morning about who was and wasn't still in the running and Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News and ESPN Dallas are both now reporting that the Stars will announce Gulutzan soon, pending finalization of a contract.
So one piece is now in place, even if the ownership, budget and overall game plan still seem a little hazy. Things should start coming into focus now with the draft just two weeks away and the Stanley Cup Finals concluding tonight or Wednesday.
Gulutzan will turn 40 in August this year and is about eleven years younger than Marc Crawford, but that's not all that's different. Coach Gulutzan is said to be more of a players coach and relates to the younger guys, which is surely a key component in the decision. He coached the likes of Jamie Benn, Philip Larsen and Tomas Vincour as well as many others who could be on the short list of call ups next year.
Coach Crawford was thought to be more of a system guy and less of a motivator and was seldom seen interacting with the players one on one, so on one hand, the "players coach" makes sense and that's supposedly the way things are done these days. On the other hand it was thought that the players needed to be held more accountable, and that will be on him as well as Willie Desjardins (assuming he'll stay) is not thought to be the "bad cop" kind of guy. Maybe a bad cop assistant is the next hire.
There will be a great deal of talk about the style of play because Gulutzan's Texas Stars were known as a defense first team that worked from the goaltender out and tried to win low scoring games, but those in Cedar Park say he was working with what he had that first year, and that talent was geared toward defense.
With more offensive tools at his disposal he'll be able to guide the Stars toward Joe Nieuwendyk's vision for up-tempo hockey while providing the structure needed to be sound defensively, which he's been practicing at the AHL level so successfully.
In two seasons with Texas Gulutzan led them to a 87-56-7-10 record with two playoff appearance and came within two games of capturing the Calder Cup in the summer of 2010.
I asked Stephen Meserve of Hundred Degree Hockey, who has spoken with Coach Gulutzan on dozens and dozens of occasions, for his thoughts:
Gulutzan seems to know how to make the most of a limited roster as well. For the past two years, Texas has lacked major offensive power during the regular season. The team has made up for it with strong team defense. Hard back-checking and responsible forward play have been hallmarks of this club. He is a young coach who can grow with the Dallas Stars as they move forward. Texas will have lost a great leader with this hiring, but the Dallas club is extremely lucky to have him at the helm. On a Texas Stars note, I think assistant coach Paul Jerrard has a great shot at becoming your new head coach for Texas.
Visit Hundred Degree Hockey for more from Stephen, and please join us in welcoming the newest (presumed) head coach of the Dallas Stars in Glen Gulutzan.