The Dallas Stars have made a few more moves in regards to their coaching staff in the wake of yesterday’s announcement that head coach Lindy Ruff was not going to be returning for next season.
In speaking to the media today, general manager Jim Nill confirmed that assistant coach James Patrick would not be retained for next season either. It’s not a surprising move. (In fact, I’d wager there would be some riots by Stars fans if Patrick were retained.)
Firstly, Patrick was Lindy Ruff’s guy. He came with him when Ruff first came to Dallas. So you have to assume that being his guy would already be a reason to let him go, as often new head coaches want to install their guys on the assistant coaching staff.
But honestly, the biggest reason isn’t even that. It was the fact that the Dallas defense could be called many things this year, none of which would be positive.
Patrick and his defensive coaching didn’t seem to develop any of the younger defensemen on the team. Jamie Oleksiak and Patrik Nemeth, and to varying degrees John Klingberg and Stephen Johns, struggled this year. Some were given more leeway with their mistakes, and others had short leashes. It never felt consistent, and partly because of that (and partly due to the fact that so many blueliners were being carried on the NHL roster this year), none really took steps forward this year.
The Stars had the second-most goals scored against them this year (276, or about 3.37 goals against per game), only beat out by the disaster that was the Colorado Avalanche. That, combined with a historically terrible penalty kill, basically sealed Patrick’s fate the minute the Stars decided to part ways with Ruff.
In a move that’s somewhat surprising, Nill mentioned that the other assistant coach Curt Fraser, will be given the opportunity to interview with the new head coach.
Goalie coach Jeff Reese will be retained for next year. That’s not exactly surprising considering this was just his second year in Dallas. You can also see that he helped improve Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi’s even-strength save percentages to at least league middling, which is quite an improvement to be honest (yes, that bar was set pretty, pretty low after last season’s goaltending performance).
Video coach Kelly Forbes will also remain next year. To me, that was never even much of a question considering that he had a fairly good record in coach’s challenges this season. Not to mention his longevity and history of good work with the organization.
It will be quite interesting to see where Dallas goes with their head coach search. Like most other moves Nill executes, I’m honestly expecting there to be not a lot of smoke out there up until right before the move is announced. He likes to play it close to the vest.