Now that Lindy Ruff has officially been fired as head coach as the Dallas Stars, it is time for the speculation to begin as to who will lead Dallas next season.
General manager Jim Nill said he has three candidates and expects the process to move quickly - around seven to 10 days.
Will it be a big name? Will it be an out-of-nowhere hire? The speculation has begun in earnest. Here are who we think should be the top three candidates Dallas has at the top of their list to fill the vacancy.
In a surprising move, the Los Angeles Kings fired head coach Daryl Sutter and general manger Dean Lombardi on Monday. The duo led the Kings to two Stanley Cups (2012 and 2014) and Sutter is the winingest coach in Kings history at 225-147-53.
The Kings, though, missed the postseason for the second time in three years and have won one playoff game since its Cup victory in 2014.
Sutter’s philosophy behind the bench is one not seen in Dallas in a long time. An old school coach, Sutter preaches structure, defense and possession. His Kings teams never were offensive juggernauts, averaging just 2.4 goals per game this season.
However, would his defense-first style mesh well with an offensive-minded unit of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza and especially John Klingberg?
Not since Ken Hitchcock has Dallas seen a defensive-first coach, and it would be a vast change of pace from Ruff’s style.
After this season, where it seemed at times Dallas’ defense was the equivalent to Swiss cheese on ice, perhaps a defense-first coach would be a welcome sight.
Muller is an intriguing assistant and candidate for a head coaching position.
An assistant since 2014 with St. Louis and now Montreal, Muller has had one head coaching gig in the NHL. He took over the Carolina Hurricanes in November of 2011 after Paul Maurice was fired.
Muller went 25-20-12 in the final 57 games of that season. His first full season as coach came in 2013-14 and Carolina went 36-35-11. Carolina never reached the playoffs under his watch.
Muller, though, has a history with younger players. He was a head coach at the college ranks with Queen’s University and was an assistant on Canada’s Under-18 team in 2006.
After a short stint as an assistant in Montreal, he was named head coach of the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals in June of 2011. He would take over as coach of Carolina just five months later.
Muller is a familiar name to Stars fans, playing his final four years (1999-2003) in Dallas.
Gallant is a name that will probably be high on Nill’s wishlist.
The two were teammates in Detroit, and Gallant’s success in Florida, mostly with a young core, was impressive. Gallant has been a head coach twice in the NHL - once with Columbus and then with Florida.
He led the Blue Jackets for parts of three seasons, only coaching 82 games once. Gallant finished his tenure in Columbus 56-76-6. However, in 2014-15 he was tagged to lead a young, up-start Panthers team. With a minimal budget and limited talent, he led Florida to 91 points in his first season.
The next year Florida won 47 games and a division title, but lost in the first round of the playoffs to the New York Islanders.
Gallant was shown the door just 21 games into this season. Florida was 11-9-1 when he was fired. His ability to lead a young Florida team to 85 wins in two years is impressive. What could he do with a more talented roster like Dallas has?