The Dallas Stars will not have head coach Glen Gulutzan and assistant coach Paul Jerrard return next season, the team announced on Tuesday, stating that the two have been relieved of their coaching duties. Gulutzan was not technically under contract for next season, although the Dallas Stars did have a team option for that third year.
Gulutzan, 41, was hired in 2011 as a coach expected to grow with a young team and was coming off two very successful seasons with the Texas Stars in the AHL. It was clear, however, that Gulutzan was likely in over his head from the start and had a very inexperienced coaching staff and front office around him -- as well as a team that never truly had the sort of firepower a coach needs to be successful.
In two seasons, one that was cut short to just 48 games because of the lockout, Gulutzan had a 66-57-9 record with the Stars missing the postseason both years. Each season, the Stars were in control of their postseason fate with just five games remaining and both seasons lost those final five games. The Stars were also mired by a historically bad power play last season, as well as continued difficulites on defense and in transition.
Like Nieuwendyk, it could be said that Gulutzan was put in an impossible situation -- especially considering the amount of turnover on the team in a season cut in half by the lockout. In the end, his team never seemed to really be able to gain the upper hand when the stakes were at their highest and it's likely that Gulutzan needs a few more years of coaching experience before he's ready to take over an NHL team again.
Just as it was with Nieuwendyk, the biggest issue with Gulutzan is that the Stars never truly had an identity as a hockey team while he was coach. There just didn't appear to be the sort of inherent structure a team needs to have to fall back on, and perhaps he just did not work as well with veteran players as would be expected of a NHL coach.
All of that being said, it was apparent that Gulutzan never really had the benefit of a team that was properly assembled -- and this season's attempt at short-term transition was not nearly as successful as it was expected to be. Some could argue that the Stars overachieved at times under Gulutzan, but at the same time it's clear that this was perhaps the right decision for all involved.
Gulutzan is an intelligent, thoughtful coach who always treated those in the media with respect and class. We wish him nothing but the best moving forward and hopefully he'll be back coaching in the NHL sooner than later.
The big question now becomes which coach is chosen to replace him? Curt Fraser is going to stay on board with the team, as well as goaltenders coach Mike Valley. There has been speculation that Alain Vigneault could be at the top of the list to be the next coach, with Dallas Eakins and Dave Tippett also having been mentioned.
Here's the press release:
Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that head coach Glen Gulutzan and assistant coach Paul Jerrard have been relieved of their coaching duties, effective immediately.
Jim Nill will be available to the media today at 3:00 p.m. inside of Dallas' locker room at Dr Pepper Arena in Frisco. Audio of Nill's statements will be posted on StarsMediaCentral.com shortly after media availability.
"I would like to thank Glen Gulutzan and Paul Jerrard for the work they provided to the Dallas organization over the past four seasons," said Nill. "They are both quality coaches and men, but we have decided to go in a different direction with our coaching staff and we wish them well in their next endeavors."
Gulutzan, 41, was the 21st head coach in franchise history and led the club to a 42-35-5 record in 2011-12, and a mark of 22-22-4 in the shortened 2013 campaign.
Assistant coach Curt Fraser and goaltending coach Mike Valley will both be retained by the club moving forward.