As with any coaching change there's been a lot of analyzing and evaluating the decision by the Dallas Stars. Yet this coaching change is a bit controversial, if for no other reason than the previous coach was so well liked and his firing caught everyone by surprise. This has led to a good number of opinions on the hiring of Marc Crawford, and the consensus seems to be that Joe Nieuwendyk has made one hell of a curious decision.
Richard Durrett of the DMN got the chance to sit and talk with new coach Marc Crawford, who immediately shows why Nieuwendyk believes him to be the next great coach for the Stars. He's articulate, has a commanding presence and it seems as if he's become a bit humbled since his off the hook days as the Colorado Avalanche coach. You can watch the video here.
To kick off our very, very lengthy rundown of quotes and clips from the various stories on the Marc Crawford hiring, Mark Stepneski had the chance to talk with Crawford on the side:
"I try to believe that I am fair and let my passion allow it. I think you've got to be true to yourself. If I was passive and never said things when things bothered me, I wouldn't be true to myself. I also recognize there have been times where my demeanor and my personality has got the best of me. Looking at the blogs today I saw one of the old things with me and Scotty (Bowman). That's not one of my finer moments, I know that. I pretty much guarantee you won't see that here. But I think being true to yourself as a player and as a coach is the best way to get the best out of your own individual ability, and I am determined to do that. I am smart enough to recognize that. I think common sense is the best way to deal with anybody. Hopefully I'll have common sense as the highlight of what I am about."
Follow the jump for much, much more.
When asked about coaching an entertaining style of play, he offered this:
"I'd also like to say I concentrate a lot on defense. I spend a lot of time on defensive play. The Stars have been a very, very strong defensive club, a very strong puck pursuit club, a great skating club and a great hard working club. I think they are the core values of the club. I think I will bring a little bit more of a flair to the team, but I just think that is the way the game is going. The game is just being played at such a high pace right now and with so much speed and so much tempo, I think, quite frankly, that's the way the players want to play. ... We're not going to reinvent the wheel here. We're not going to turn this into the old ABA. We're going to be a responsible team that tries to play an up tempo game."
"With Marty I am going to be open to lots of things. Your goalie and the head coach have to have a great relationship. ... You have to be on the same page. There has to be an understanding and an expectation, and they have to feel like there is a two-way street. I sense with Marty that we are going to get along famously and we're going to look at anything to get him to that level that he wants to get to. That's the most important thing, Marty's desire to get back to the top. From people I've talked to - people that know him really well - he's an extremely motivated guy right now, and that is music to my ears. That's the most important factor. I am not going to make as much an impact as he is going to make. Hopefully I'll make a good impact on how the Stars handle him, and we're all after the same thing for sure."
Marty Turco, Brenden Morrow, Mike Modano ... they were all in town. They just weren't invited. And that may be the strongest statement delivered by new general manager Joe Nieuwendyk. This is Nieuwendyk's team, and he will do things his way.
"It's not that different than when Hitch came in," Modano said of the change between players' coach Bob Gainey and taskmaster Ken Hitchcock. "They wanted a different voice."
Turco said he didn't have a problem with how things were done. "Joe is the boss, Joe is in charge, and we have to trust in him and do our best to make this team better," Turco said.
Morrow followed the same train of thought. He said he found out about the new coach from teammates. "That's old school, and Joe is going to do what he thinks is best," Morrow said. "We're here to play."
But the one thing that is patently clear is this is a mistake that will rest solely on Nieuwendyk's shoulders. And Crawford's hiring is certainly a mistake. The old adage about judging a hockey trade by which team obtains the best player applies here. With Crawford becoming the new coach in Dallas, it is a step down on almost every level from what Tippett brought to the table. One NHL coach told ESPN.com on Wednesday he thinks Tippett is one of the best coaches in the league.
Logic suggests Nieuwendyk should have given Tippett at least a chance at the start of the coming season to see if the Stars' 12th-place finish in the Western Conference last season was an issue of coaching or personnel. As for Tippett, a great communicator and innovative thinker, he shouldn't have to wait long for a new opportunity to come his way.
Since leaving Colorado in 1998, Crawford has won one playoff series. He spent last season as an analyst for Hockey Night in Canada and sees personal parallels to the Stars.
"We're all trying to recapture some greatness," Crawford said.
Stars unrestricted free agent Brendan Morrison, who played in Vancouver, said he remembers an intense Crawford prodding his players.
"His biggest asset is the way he holds all his players accountable," Morrison said. "He doesn't give free passes to anybody."
Nieuwendyk said he sensed determination from Crawford, whom he interviewed Tuesday, and said he shares Crawford's love of offensive hockey.
"He likes the offensive guys to be creative, and that's going to bode very well for a lot of players," Nieuwendyk said. "I know he'll have control of that locker room. He runs a real solid bench, he has good awareness of the opponent that we're playing. I think guys will recognize right away that he is the guy in charge."
And that's something Nieuwendyk wants. He labeled it as an "edge," and something the team needs to regain after missing the playoffs last season.
Tippett probably deserved another season and the chance to coach whatever team Nieuwendyk creates for him. But that may have just delayed the inevitable, because the speed of this thing is an indication that Nieuwendyk wanted a different kind of man behind the bench. Crawford, the former Kings, Colorado Avalanche and Vancouver Canucks coach, is certainly different.
For Nieuwendyk's sake, he needs to be better, too. The worst thing for the rookie GM would be to have Tippett resurface somewhere else soon and find success while Crawford scowls at Marty Turco's five hole.
Joe Nieuwendyk's first major decision as GM of the Dallas Star was, to put it mildly, a bit curious. Tabbing Marc Crawford to be the club's new head coach just one day after officially firing Dave Tippett - hmmm, any possibility Crawford was talking to the Stars while Tippett still had the job? - doesn't exactly put a progressive new face on the Dallas franchise.
While young still at 48, Crawford has that odour of "yesterday's man" about him.
Tippett, who has two years left on his contract, said that he is disappointed leaving the team after six seasons and five playoff appearances, but that being let go is something a coach must expect.
"In this business, you have to focus on the job at hand and do it to the best of your ability," he said. "Then, if you are moved on, you have to see that as an opportunity. When one door closes, another one opens."
Tippett said he was hoping to drive up to his summer home in northern Minnesota and take time off. However, his plans may be changed by the fact Calgary, Minnesota and New Jersey are searching for coaches.