New Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill said he met with (now ex) head coach Glen Gulutzan upwards of half-a-dozen times before making the decision revealed to all yesterday, and at the end of the day changes were necessary to begin installing what fans hope will be the next prosperous era of Stars hockey.
"They're great coaches," Nill told media Tuesday morning. "Unfortunately sometimes there needs to be changes and it's just not the right timing. They're going to be great coaches down the road and they're going to do a good job moving forward."
The question now on the lips of Stars faithful is also about timing - As in 'When will a new head coach be named? Is there a time frame?'
"Not a definite time frame," Nill said in the Frisco locker room. "We have games going on still, playoffs and there's a lot of hockey still to be played. We have a list of names and we're going to start looking. I will start interviewing coaches probably over the next week to 10 days and we'll go from there."
So there may not be a hurry. Coaches tied up in the NHL and AHL playoffs could be in play, as well as potential new assistants still carrying on in juniors and others perhaps helping in the World Championships. For now, until rumor or report breaks the malaise, the story will be that they want to wait and let all the options present themselves fully before moving forward.
After all - It's perhaps the most important decision Nill could make in his first several years working under Tom Gaglardi.
Does he have an idea about the sort of coach he's looking for?
"Yes I do," Nill said "I'm not going to say what that is right now but I know what I'm looking for and I know what the expectations are. It's someone that's going to come in and be a strong team player and also has the same values that I have."
Nill's likely to want a head coach as "intelligent and hard working" as he says he likes his players, but any question of systems or potential style of play will have to wait as specifics have not been broached. Without an idea of what the roster will look like for the next several years any incoming coaches will likely have to adjust their plans according to the available skill sets.
As far as where they'll look, Nill wouldn't rule out coaches without NHL experience.
"I'm going to be wide open," Nill continued. A"s we've seen there's been some great young coaches come in and done some great things with some teams so I need to be wide open to that aspect. We're going to look at every option."
Naturally the conversation turned the AHL coach of the year, currently hoping to dig the Texas Stars out of a 2-1 hole to the Barons.
"Willie is definitely going to be one of those people," Nill confirmed of those to be considered. "They're still playing. He's done a great job down there (as) coach of the year. He's definitely going to get consideration. I think it's important to look internally first and he's definitely one of the people on the list."
Queries concerning current Dallas Stars assistant Curt Fraser, formerly part of the Detroit Red Wings' developmental system with Grand Rapids, produced more nebulous results as Nill said he has not yet had a chance to talk to Fraser about that particular possibility.
"There's no hurry," Nill said when asked again about the time frame. "The sooner the better but... the best person for the right job. If that takes time we're going to wait and see. And there's still lots of hockey going on right now. We're going to look at all situations."
So Stars fans may have to wait a bit.
As far as the bigger names that may become available in the coming weeks?
"There's some guys whose contracts may be up and looking for different options. We want to be open to those situations."
Let the speculation begin, but that's all it will be. The Stars appear to be early in the process, willing to take their time and get the man they believe will be a huge part of their potential resurgence.