On the heels of today's news that the sale of the Dallas Stars is actually progressing, Mike Heika bestows upon us some good news in regards to the coaching search as well. Heika spoke to Joe Nieuwendyk today and some very interesting tidbits were revealed in regards to who the Stars are looking at to be the next coach of the Dallas Stars.
We've looked at a number of names here on Defending Big D and most of the coaches mentioned in Heika's article we were expecting to come up in the discussion.
While Texas Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan and former Stars coach Ken Hitchcock are no surprises, Nieuwendyk said he also has talked to Nashville assistant coach Peter Horachek.
Horacheck, 51, has been an assistant coach to Barry Trotz since 2003 and has been a head coach at several minor league stops. He lead the Orlando Solar Bears to the 2000 IHL championship.
Peter Horachek, assistant coach for a team that has been, for nearly their entire time in Nashville, been a defense-first franchise. Including the interviews of Glen Gulutzan and Hitchcock, the notion that Nieuwendyk is automatically looking for an offensive mastermind appears to be falling by the wayside. Perhaps Nieuwendyk is purely interested in hiring a stable, decent yet demanding coach and not so much interested in shoehorning a coach into a "system".
Nieuwendyk also mentioned that he will be interviewing Montreal assistant Kirk Muller and "possibly another coach". Based on some tidbits in the Canadian media over the weekend, it's possible this other coach could be Gerard Gallant, who coached the St. John Sea Dogs to a Memorial Cup victory and is suddenly a very hot commodity for a couple of vacancies in the NHL.
It's a very interesting glance at the direction Nieuwendyk is looking to take with his next coach and there's no indication of who might be the favorite. What makes one's eyebrows raise a bit is that Willie Desjardins has not been mentioned amongst the coaches that has been or will be interviewed, when many -- including me -- felt he was the favorite to take the job. It could be that the problems we've heard about the locker room and the communication between players and coaches has made Nieuwendyk want to look outside the organization and to bring in new blood that could complete the job that Marc Crawford began two years ago.
I still find it hard to believe that Nieuwendyk, after all the talk about being offensively aggressive and changing the culture for the organization, would hire a coach like Horachek or Hitchcock. It's just too much of a step backwards or sideways instead of a bold move forward. Marc Crawford was never the right man for the job and never felt like he truly fit, but above all he didn't have the "wow" factor that gave not only fans excitement and hope but also gave that same feeling to the players and the organization as well.
Hitchcock would certainly have a "wow" factor if hired, but that's about it. Glen Gulutzan, Kirk Muller and Gerard Gallant are all very well respected, relatively young coaches that could potentially bring some innovative and exciting ideas to the team.
In regards to the timeline for the hire, Nieuwendyk said he's shooting for the end of June. The fact that there is still no owner or budget in place complicates matters but he is working with the NHL and Tony Tavares to ensure that while the sale process is ongoing the actual team itself is not forgotten.
Which coach, now that we've narrowed it down, is most exciting to you?