There was much fanfare (and honestly shock from this writer) that GM Jim Nill went back to a name from yesteryear to lead his young Stars.
Outside from the Ben Bishop deal earlier in May, Dallas has remained relatively quiet. More surprisingly, little has been said about the coaching staff that would surround Hitchcock.
Assistant coach James Patrick was shown the door along with former head coach Lindy Ruff following a disastrous season - one day after the season ended to be exact. The only two coaches listed on Dallasstars.com are Hitchcock and goalie coach Jeff Reese.
The options to replace both Curt Frasor and Patrick are aplenty. Nill and Hitchcock can reach out to former players, head coaches and maybe a surprise name.
Here are five coaches who could join Hitch’ behind the bench.
Willie Desjardins: After coaching in Cedar Park of the AHL from 2012-14, Desjardins got his shot in 2014 with the Vancouver Canucks.
To say it didn’t go well would be an understatement.
Vancouver made the playoffs his first season, and then won a combined 61 games the next two seasons. Ouch.
In all fairness it wasn’t all his fault. The Vancouver lineup was hindered by the aging Sedin twins and Ryan Miller, and waited too long to begin a youth movement.
A move to Dallas would be a familiar one, as he served as assistant coach for the Stars from 2010-12. Desjardins also coached several of the young players either on the Dallas, or Cedar Park roster that are set to make the jump.
Sergei Zubov: Arguably one of the greatest players in Dallas Stars history, Zubov is one of the great defensemen of all time, also.
Zubov, alongside Hitchcock, brought the Cup to Dallas in 1999.
Zubov, who retired in 2010 after one season in the KHL (his last NHL season came in 2009 with Dallas) was hired as a defensive assistant for the Russian National Team.
Dallas will have a young, but talented, defensive core heading into the 2017-18 season. With names like John Klingberg, Essa Lindell, Julius Honka, and (maybe?) Stephen Johns and Jamie Oleksiak, Zubov’s experience could work wonders.
Afterall, who better to teach defense than one of the greatest defenseman to play the game?
Kirk Muller: Again, a former Dallas Stars player finds himself on the list. Muller, who has been an assistant in Montreal since 2016, played with Zubov in Dallas from 1999 until his retirement in 2003.
Muller had one chance to be a head coach, coming with Carolina from 2011-14. He won 80 games in three years and never made the playoffs.
What makes Muller a strong assistant candidates for Hithcock goes beyond his familiarity with the bench boss, it’s his knowledge of dealing with younger players.
He was head coach of Queen’s University, and was an assistant on Canada’s Under-18 team in 2006. Muller also served as head coach of the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL in 2011.
Paul MacLean: MacLean and Nill have history back to their days together in Detroit.
MacLean has been an assistant in Anaheim for the past two season. Bringing MacLean in would not only add another veteran voice behind the bench, but would also bring in more defensive expertise.
MacLean, a Cup winner as assistant coach in Detroit in 2007-08, was head coach of Ottawa from 2012 to 2014. He led Ottawa to the playoffs twice in three years, but was fired just 27 games into the 2014-15 season. The Senators were 11-11-5 at the time of his firing.
Dallas biggest issue last season was defense, not only from defenseman. Hockey is a 200-foot game and at times last season forwards lost that message.
His knowledge of defensive hockey would not only improve the defensive core, but also the team defense.
Daryl Sutter: Would Sutter, a former two-time Stanley Cup-winning coach, take an assistant coaching position? Maybe not. But I’d still ask.
The strategy utilized by both Nashville and Ottawa is very reminiscent of what Los Angeles did back in 2012 and 2014: Physical, suffocating, and yes, at times, boring, hockey.
But you can’t deny its effectiveness.
Nashville and Ottawa’s use, to some extent, of a 1-3-1 forecheck allows no time and space through the middle of the ice. And when you’re up against the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Sidney Crosby, the less time they have in the middle of the ice, the better.
While the Kings played more physical than both Nashville and Ottawa, that style of hockey utilized with speed is dangerous.
Would Dallas’ skillset lend itself to a more suffocating style? It would be interesting to see. Then again, Sutter never had the offensive talent currently of the Stars roster.