TSN's Darren Dreger is reporting this afternoon that the Dallas Stars have let defensive assistant coach Charlie Huddy go. He was hired in the summer of 2009 shortly after the arrival of Marc Crawford and coached the Dallas defense each of the last two seasons to 2.98 GA/G and 2.76 GA/G.
His hiring was met with general approval here and Edmonton Oiler fans hold the man in very high regard. As bad as the Oilers had been it was generally agreed that Huddy had done a good job with the defense they had there, and that he would compliment Marc Crawford's style of wanting the d-men to "activate" while still maintaining defensive responsibility.
He had the unenviable task of taking over a Stars defense that was dealing with the losses of Sergei Zubov, Phillipe Boucher and Mattius Norstrum, among others, and was trying to fit young pieces like Matt Niskanen into their system while supplementing with the likes of Jeff Woywitka and Karlis Skrastins.
Defense has been the single largest point of contention from the fanbase over the course of the last two seasons so it is only natural questions to be raised about Huddy, but one could certainly make the argument that he may not have been handed an ideal array of ingredients for a successful defensive recipe. Perhaps new Dallas Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan simply want to hire his "own guy."
Talk is already forming out there about "rebuilding" and how a "shakeup was needed" and to that one might say: What? Firing your head coach wasn't enough of a sign of those things already?
The defense will feature Alex Goligoski this year and only one (or zero) of Woywitka and Skrastins, both of whom are UFA's. Philip Larsen is an option as is free agency. The defense was going to be shaken up either way. This should just give Coach Gulutzan more control over it. Another way to look at it is part of the youth movement. Huddy is over 50 and an old school guy. The way of the Stars-world right now is to get younger.
No word yet on Stu Barnes or Willie Desjardins but the expectation is for them to be retained (as it was with Huddy). Mike Valley will stay to work with the goaltenders.
One thing that wasn't addressed by Coach Gulutzan or GM Joe Nieuwendyk at the press conference earlier this week was special teams, which have been sub-par on both sides in the last two seasons. Somewhere in all of this coaching shakeup must be a route to a better power play and/or penalty kill, and that's something we hope to hear more about as the summer wears on.
Twitter has already exploded with Oiler fans clamoring to get him back in Alberta, and he carries with him the same reputation as before, so the guess here is that Coach Huddy will work again, and we wish him the best.