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What's Next for the Dallas Stars?

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16What's Next for the Dallas Stars? - Page 2 Empty Re: What's Next for the Dallas Stars? on Mon Jun 01, 2009 3:30 pm

davetherave


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One of Nieuwendyk's priorities will no doubt be to determine the nature of, and possible solutions to, the issues that compromised the Stars last year.

Those included injuries, including that to Brenden Morrow and Mike Richards; Marty Turco's inconsistency; the role of Mike Modano, and his eventual replacement; and the effectiveness of Dave Tippett as coach.

As a three-time Stanley Cup winner as a player (with the Flames, Stars, and Devils), and with executive experience in two NHL cities, Nieuwendyk is also well qualified to implement a 'culture of excellence' in Dallas from the top down.

The Stars, just a season removed from their exciting playoff run, and after a season many of them may wish to forget, may once again be a team to watch in 2009-10.

17What's Next for the Dallas Stars? - Page 2 Empty Re: What's Next for the Dallas Stars? on Mon Jun 01, 2009 8:34 pm

davetherave


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Nieuwendyk speaks, and the Stars respond...this from ESPN today:

Nieuwendyk returns to Stars as GM

DALLAS (AP)-- About 10 days after Texan Tom Hicks bought the Dallas Stars, he showed some hockey smarts by giving up prospects and a big contract to land Joe Nieuwendyk.

It was a great investment. The Stars won the Presidents Trophy in Nieuwendyk's first full season, won the Stanley Cup the next year, then went right back to the finals. Nieuwendyk even won the Conn Smythe Award as playoff MVP the year of Dallas' title, the first in franchise history.

Then the Stars traded Nieuwendyk in 2002, and things haven't been the same since. Coincidence or not, Dallas has won just three playoff series, missing the postseason altogether this year.


So when Hicks decided to shake up his front office -- sending co-general managers Brett Hull and Les Jackson back to roles they're more suited for -- it was Nieuwendyk to the rescue again.

His hiring was announced Sunday and the first-time GM was introduced at a news conference Monday.

"He's a winner," Hicks said. "What he brought on the ice for this organization [in the last '90s] was different than the other stars we had. He was really the glue. I think that leadership and that ability to build a consensus around him, those skills sets will be very transferrable to being in management."

Nieuwendyk has spent the last two years being groomed for this opportunity, working in an apprentice role under GMs in Toronto and Florida. He also was assistant GM for Team Canada, which won a silver medal at the world championships; in that job, he coincidentally worked with the guy who traded him from the Stars (Doug Armstrong) and his new head coach, Dave Tippett.

"Spending the last month or so with him, I believe he's ready for this," Tippett said. "He is very methodical, very thoughtful in his approach. He thinks things through before he reacts to them. He was a hard player to play against because he would outthink you. I would imagine it's going to be the same as GM."

Not as speedy as Mike Modano, not the flashy scorer Hull was, Nieuwendyk was a steady, calming presence with lots of skill and plenty of grit. He also understood the business side of the game, serving as his own agent at times.

The comparison made by both Nieuwendyk and Hicks was to Bob Gainey, a Hall of Fame player who was 39 when he became general manager of the Minnesota North Stars. He eventually built them into a Stanley Cup winner -- in Dallas, after the franchise moved. Of course, that was the '99 team and Nieuwendyk was one of his top acquisitions.

Looking over the current roster, Nieuwendyk believes the Stars aren't as far away from being contenders as it looked last season, when they plummeted from Western Conference finalists to 12th place in the West.

Injuries and the Sean Avery mess were problems that couldn't be overcome. In captain Brenden Morrow, Brad Richards and Mike Ribeiro, the Stars have three quality forwards in their prime, plus a capable goalie in Marty Turco and whatever Modano has left at 39. Other building blocks are in place, too, including Tippett, whom Nieuwendyk is happy to keep.

"I think this team can turn it around quickly," he said. "I'm coming into a real good situation."

He also believes Morrow is the perfect anchor.

"Clearly, this is Brenden's team," Nieuwendyk said. "I have no problem with this team taking the identity of the passion he brings to the game every night."

Morrow was in the room hearing his boss rave about him and later joked, "I'll have to tip him."

Truth is, their admiration is mutual. Morrow broke in during the '99 season and Nieuwendyk was among the veterans who helped mold him. They've spoken a lot in recent days, "just catching up," more as friends than boss and employee.

Suffice to say, Morrow believes the Stars have the right guy in charge.

"This," Morrow said, "is just another step in getting that winning tradition back."

18What's Next for the Dallas Stars? - Page 2 Empty Re: What's Next for the Dallas Stars? on Sun Jun 07, 2009 9:15 pm

davetherave


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Joe settles in as Dallas GM, and Darren Eliot of Sports Illustrated gives his opinion:


Nieuwendyk ready for Stars turn


Darren Eliot/VIEW FROM THE ICE, SI.COM, June 4, 2009

iTalk about a trial run gone right. Joe Nieuwendyk works with Team Canada as assistant GM at the World Championships and spends a month with
Dallas Stars coach Dave Tippett in the process. Three weeks later, the Stars name Nieuwendyk as their new GM, thus ending the experiment of having co-GM's (Brett Hull and Les Jackson).

As Tippett observed, "I believe he's ready for this. He is very methodical, very thoughtful in his approach. He thinks things through before he reacts to them. He was a hard player to play against because he would outthink you. I would imagine it's going to be the same as a GM."

Of course, Tippett coaching Team Canada while Nieuwendyk was part of the management team is hardly the only tie that makes sense in this move.

Nieuwendyk was the key figure in the Stars' 1999 Stanley Cup victory, leading the team in scoring and winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. The Stars acquired him from the Calgary Flames in 1995 for a prospect named Jarome Iginla, and Nieuwendyk spent seven seasons with the Dallas organization. It was a lot to give up, but the Stars knew they were getting a hard-nosed two-way player who produced offensively. Plus, he had a Stanley Cup on his resume with the 1989 Flames.

Just like they knew what they were getting then, they know what they are getting now: a classy, up-and-coming executive who has had his sights set on this role for several years. Nieuwendyk hoped his opportunity might come in Florida where he was Jacques Martin's assistant with the Panthers, but the timing wasn't right.

"I appreciated my time with Jacques," Nieuwendyk told me on Wednesday. "We all would like to stay in the game -- it has given us so much and meant everything to all of who have played -- and the Panthers gave me that opportunity."

Ironically, the Stars' official announcement came on the same day that Martin left the Panthers to coach the Montreal Canadiens. Sounds like more than mere coincidence to me that the Stars acted swiftly, circumventing any potential interest the Panthers surely would have had in Nieuwendyk. According to him, though, there was nothing of the sort.

"Jacques' press conference was going on at exactly the same time, I think," Nieuwendyk said. "No, what Florida was doing didn't impact what we were doing in Dallas in the least."

This past season, Nieuwendyk worked for the Toronto Maple Leafs as a special assistant to the general manager. That's an experiencing-building position, but with Brian Burke, Dave Nonis and Cliff Fletcher all on the Leafs' management team, the role for Nieuwendyk was hard to define. There wasn't much room to move, or enough to do. That doesn't mean the time spent wasn't valuable.

"Going to Toronto was an easy decision," he says. "When Cliff (a former Flames GM) went there, it was like going home, really on two fronts."

Working under the man who drafted him, and being close to where he grew up was a cozy arrangement while Nieuwendyk furthered his interest in hockey operations. The Leafs facilitating and nurturing that interest made him a viable GM candidate. His front office work is also part of a recent rash of high-end former players who are pursuing roles in upper management: Steve Yzerman in Detroit and with Team Canada, Al MacInnis in St. Louis, and Ron Francis in Raleigh.

They've all become part of management teams and with that comes opportunity to be in charge one day.

That day for Nieuwendyk is now. Does he have enough experience? Time will tell, but he has always been a quick study. During his sophomore season, he led Cornell to the Eastern Conference Championship and a berth in the final four -- before the ECAC split with the advent of Hockey East and the final four became the Frozen Four . In Calgary, he was in just his second full season with the Flames when they won the Stanley Cup. He registered back-to-back 51-goal campaigns in his first two years in the NHL and won the 1987-88 Calder Trophy as the league's rookie of the year.

Later in his career, the New Jersey Devils coveted Nieuwendyk's experience and again it paid off as he was part of his third Stanley Cup-winning team, in 2003 when the Devils prevailed over the Anaheim (Mighty) Ducks in seven games. Now the Stars again want Nieuwendyk. I asked him about his new team and he already had the tone of a GM assessing his club.

"I don't see us as a 12th-place team in the (western) conference," he said. "I've just come from two organizations that were in the process of identifying and developing some top six forwards. We have a good group here already. And with captain Brendan Morrow returning, that only makes us stronger. Marty (Turco) had an off year and I'd expect him to bounce back, as competitive and proud a guy as he is. I'm excited by what we have and what we're capable of"

And what of former co-GM's Hull and Jackson? Nieuwendyk doesn't foresee any issues or conflicts.

"I've already spoken with Hully," he said. "He was good, ready for his new role. And Les is so strong and has been with the organization so long, I intend to lean on him a lot."

I see nothing but success on the horizon for Nieuwendyk at the helm of the Stars.

There's nothing in the past that indicates otherwise.

19What's Next for the Dallas Stars? - Page 2 Empty Re: What's Next for the Dallas Stars? on Wed Jun 10, 2009 7:30 am

davetherave

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Nieuwendyk announces his plans...from the Dallas Morning News:

NIEUWENDYK PLANS TO BUILD STARS THROUGH THE DRAFT
CHUCK CARLTON / The Dallas Morning News, June 2 2009
ccarlton@dallasnews.com


The Stars won a Stanley Cup 10 years ago this month by being one of the NHL's biggest spenders in free agency.

If they reach the top again, it will be with a different approach.

New general manager Joe Nieuwendyk offered a glimpse into his management philosophy Monday during an introductory news conference. He plans to take a cautious approach to pursuing pricey veteran free agents in a salary-cap world.

"I don't see it as a way of building," Nieuwendyk said. "What normally happens is you end up overspending on Day 1. And I think a lot of teams have fallen into that over the years. With all due respect, our team was one of them. You have to be careful."

The Stars struck it big in free agency with Brett Hull, Ed Belfour and Pat Verbeek. But there were also costly mistakes, like Pierre Turgeon and Donald Audette.

So even though one of the top free agents this season is Florida defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, just 25 and a former Nieuwendyk teammate, the Stars appear be headed in a different direction.

Nieuwendyk plans to build through the amateur draft, where the Stars hold the eighth pick.

His outline was what eventually sold owner Tom Hicks that Nieuwendyk, with only two years of management experience, was ready.

Hicks targeted Nieuwendyk two months ago as a possible replacement for co-GMs Les Jackson and Brett Hull, and the two finally met face-to-face a week ago.

Nieuwendyk explained "his vision of what he thinks our issues are and what he thinks we need to do to fix those issues and become what we used to be," Hicks said. "We were so strong ... I think we've gotten comfortable. I think we need to be refocused."

Expect no snap decisions from Nieuwendyk, as Hicks discovered. Apparently, Nieuwendyk learned his lessons well from veteran executives like Bob Gainey and Cliff Fletcher.

"I was ready to make a deal with him a long time ago," Hicks said. "He's been very careful, very deliberate, and that's what you want to see in a general manager. ... He held me off until Saturday."

Nieuwendyk refused to be cornered on issues Monday. He likes Dave Tippett, a fellow Team Canada staff member for three weeks at the World Championship, but declined to declare outright that he'll be the coach going into training camp.

Nieuwendyk said he believes the Stars can become a Western Conference contender again quickly, pointing to the injuries the team suffered this past season.

At the same time, he's not oblivious to the challenge ahead of him.

"When you don't make the playoffs and you're near the bottom of a lot of NHL statistics, you have to be a little concerned," Nieuwendyk said. "I have some work ahead of me, along with Les. We have to address those things. I know the injuries are one thing.

"But there are a lot of teams that have injuries and we just have to be better, figure out ways to be better."

20What's Next for the Dallas Stars? - Page 2 Empty Re: What's Next for the Dallas Stars? on Thu Jun 11, 2009 10:15 am

Phoenix30

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Crawford is hired as new coach.

21What's Next for the Dallas Stars? - Page 2 Empty Re: What's Next for the Dallas Stars? on Thu Jun 11, 2009 10:20 am

The Silfer Server

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Phoenix30 wrote:Crawford is hired as new coach.

Do you think that cuts Dallas out of the running for Heatley as Heatley might not want to play for Crawford?

22What's Next for the Dallas Stars? - Page 2 Empty Re: What's Next for the Dallas Stars? on Thu Jun 11, 2009 12:14 pm

PTFlea

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Phoenix30 wrote:Crawford is hired as new coach.

Wow, weak choice.

23What's Next for the Dallas Stars? - Page 2 Empty Re: What's Next for the Dallas Stars? on Thu Jun 11, 2009 12:18 pm

davetherave

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DALLAS BECOMES LATEST COACHING STOP FOR CRAWFORD
CBSSPORTS.COM/STATS LLC, June 11 2009

DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars named Marc Crawford as their new coach Thursday, bringing in a well-traveled NHL veteran to replace the fired Dave Tippett.
The coaching change is the first significant move by general manager Joe Nieuwendyk since he was hired May 31.

Crawford has a 470-361-156 record in 13 seasons as coach of the Quebec Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche, Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings. He was the Avalanche coach when they won the 1996 Stanley Cup. His last season on the bench was for the Kings in 2007-08, when they were 32-43-7.

Tippett finished with a 271-162-59 record in six seasons with the Stars. He took them to the playoffs five times before falling short last season.

"I am very excited that we have been able to secure Marc Crawford as head coach of the Dallas Stars," Nieuwendyk said in a statement. "Marc is a winner with extensive experience in this league, and I am confident he will get the most out of our hockey club. ... Dave Tippett did a very good job in his six seasons here with the Stars, however it was my feeling that our team needed a new direction moving forward."

Nieuwendyk and Crawford were scheduled to appear in a news conference later Thursday.

The Stars made it to the Western Conference finals in 2008 and entered last season with high expectations. But they had an injury-plagued season, going much of the year without captain Brenden Morrow and veteran defenseman Sergei Zubov.

Soon after the season, owner Tom Hicks reassigned co-general managers Brett Hull and Les Jackson within the organization and hired Nieuwendyk, the Conn Smythe Award winner in the team's 1999 Stanley Cup-winning season.

The Stars also said assistant coach Mike Lamb had been fired after six seasons. They said the rest of the staff was still being evaluated, including Rick Wilson, the interim head coach for the Stars after Ken Wang was fired midway through the 2001-02.

Crawford has coached the 15th-most games in NHL history at 987, and has a 43-40 record in eight playoff appearances. He also was head coach for Team Canada during the 1998 Winter Olympics.

"I'm very excited and honored to have been selected as head coach of the Dallas Stars," Crawford said. "This is a winning organization and I look forward to building upon the success that it has earned over the years. This club has a great deal of potential."

As a rookie head coach for Quebec in 1994-95, the Nordiques made the playoffs and at 34 he became the youngest recipient of the Jack Adams Trophy as the NHL coach of the year, a distinction he still holds. The team moved to Colorado and won the Stanley Cup a year later and he stayed with that franchise until 1998.

Crawford was in Vancouver from 1999-2006, and his 246 wins there are still the most in for a Canucks coach. He had two losing seasons in Los Angeles.

As a player, Crawford was selected in the fourth round (70th overall) of the 1980 draft by Vancouver and appeared in 176 games for the Canucks with 19 goals and 31 assists. He made his NHL debut during the 1981-82 season, which he split between the Canucks and the Dallas Black Hawks of the Central Hockey League.

24What's Next for the Dallas Stars? - Page 2 Empty Re: What's Next for the Dallas Stars? on Thu Jun 11, 2009 12:28 pm

SeawaySensFan

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Crawford really benifited from the Cornwall Royals coach factory when he played there. Newell Brown... Sparky Allison... they were there.

25What's Next for the Dallas Stars? - Page 2 Empty Re: What's Next for the Dallas Stars? on Thu Jun 11, 2009 12:35 pm

SensFan71


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SpezDispenser wrote:
Phoenix30 wrote:Crawford is hired as new coach.

Wow, weak choice.

who else out there is better? just wondering because I don't actually know which coaches are without jobs?

26What's Next for the Dallas Stars? - Page 2 Empty Re: What's Next for the Dallas Stars? on Sat Jun 13, 2009 6:23 pm

davetherave

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The view from Dallas...

MARC CRAWFORD A REAL JERK AS A HOCKEY COACH, WHICH IS WHAT THE STARS NEED
Jennifer Floyd-Engel, The Dallas Star-Telegram, June 11 2009

DALLAS — Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk fired a really good hockey coach and a really good guy Wednesday. In his place, he hired a really good coach prone to abrasive jerk-ishness in Marc Crawford.

And Nieuwy did exactly the right thing by doing so.

What this Stars team desperately needs is a jerk, a guy willing to kick butts and call out players and be disliked by his locker room. Because this group is not exactly loaded with self-starters. They have Brenden Morrow and Steve Ott and Stephane Robidas and … well, a lot of guys in need of a gentle shove.

A few, with Brad Richards immediately springing to mind, need a serious smack-down.

"We were, maybe, as an organization, people were just a little too comfortable," Stars owner Tom Hicks said Thursday. "I think there was a recognition from some of the players that 'We need to have our butts kicked sometimes.’ "

And frankly Dave Tippett is not a butt-kicking, smack-down guy.

He had been a player and trusts players to do the right things. In a perfect world, with a team loaded with enough Morrows, a good guy like Tip wins Stanley Cup after Stanley Cup.

This was not that group, and Tip had to be fired as a result.

Not that you could discern that necessity listening to Thursday’s presser. It began with a big, fat thank-you to the guy they had just fired and included all sorts of praise of his time in Dallas. Hicks and Nieuwendyk said again and again that they know Tip will go on to win elsewhere. They basically lobbied for him to get the New Jersey job.

So why fire him? Let me put what they said through my pc-translator.

What Nieuwy said about Tip: Good guy. Good coach.

What he wanted to say: The guy was just too nice for our team as presently structured because we have too many guys who will take advantage of not being held accountable.

What Nieuwy said about Crawford: Structured, demanding, in-charge kind of guy.
What he wanted to say: Players had better be ready because he’s a coconut buster. He’s not going to be OK with more of this just-OK stuff.

"Are you calling Marc a jerk?" Nieuwendyk said with a smile when I offered my take on Crawford.

Yes, but I mean jerk in the best possible of ways, in a Ken Hitchc0ck kind of way.

The former Stars coach was a jerky jerk at times. His players said so daily, oftentimes angrily and occasionally to his face. They had players-only meetings to vent about him. They almost daily wished he’d lighten up or at the very least shut up. They also respected the hell out of him and credit him for helping them win a Cup.

He refused to accept whatever excuses and limitations players slapped upon themselves. He had a level he expected each player to achieve and he was not settling for anything less. And Crawford is very much like him.

"If I have to push people, I’ll push people," he said Thursday.

And anybody who has seen YouTube clips of Crawford, especially from his Avalanche days, recognizes push as a kinder, gentler euphemism for what it is he really does. He goes Hitch on guys, not letting up until he gets what he wants from them.

And there he was Thursday, in the bowels of the AAC, quoting Cowboys coaching legend Tom Landry about how his job is "to push players to do the things they don’t really want to do so they become the players they always wanted to be."

Crawford needs to begin by jumping on Richards’ butt and riding him until he looks interested. He personified a guy who is happy to be playing for Dallas where the weather is good, the coach is not too demanding and the golf course is ready whenever the season ends.

It was weird, really, for anybody who watched Richards in Tampa, to see him so lackadaisical at times for the Stars. You wondered what had happened to that guy.

Of course, in Tampa, Richards had the jerkiest of jerks as a coach, John Tortorella. And he played his best hockey.

Is it fair to blame Tip for players failing to be self-starters? Probably not. Of course, it was not fair to fire Wang because players had tired of listening to him. Then GM Bob Gainey said as much when he announced the decision.

This is just the way it is in hockey. In sports, really.

Teams fluctuate between the good guy and the jerk, trading one for the other and knowing all along they will have to go back eventually. The Stars probably could have been OK with another year of the good guy, but the goal is not simply OK.

It is championship. And this bodes well for Rangers fans worrying about if money exists to sign Matt Purke or to do anything near the trade deadline if circumstances warrant.

Thursday allayed fears that Hicks is too broke to play ball.

"This is what I’ve been saying," Hicks said. "It’s business as usual. What needs to be done will be done."

What needed to be done in Starsland was to fire the good guy and bring in a jerk. And if Crawford’s anything like the last jerk, Nieuwy did exactly the right thing.

Jerks have a history of winning Cups in this town.

27What's Next for the Dallas Stars? - Page 2 Empty Re: What's Next for the Dallas Stars? on Sat Jun 13, 2009 8:24 pm

PTFlea

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SensFan71 wrote:
who else out there is better? just wondering because I don't actually know which coaches are without jobs?

Dave Tippett? They had him and fired him for Crawford? I don't understand, I really don't.

Dave Lowrey, Hartley (not a fan), Cunneyworth?

How about Gary Roberts? Clearly you don't need experience in the current NHL to get a job (Joe Sacco? Are you serious?)

28What's Next for the Dallas Stars? - Page 2 Empty Re: What's Next for the Dallas Stars? on Sat Jun 13, 2009 8:25 pm

PTFlea

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Bass Destruction wrote:
Phoenix30 wrote:Crawford is hired as new coach.

Do you think that cuts Dallas out of the running for Heatley as Heatley might not want to play for Crawford?

Why would he not want to play for Crawford? Because he's a belligerent arse, or is there another reason? Sarcasm

29What's Next for the Dallas Stars? - Page 2 Empty Re: What's Next for the Dallas Stars? on Sat Jun 13, 2009 9:11 pm

Guest


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SpezDispenser wrote:
SensFan71 wrote:
who else out there is better? just wondering because I don't actually know which coaches are without jobs?

Dave Tippett? They had him and fired him for Crawford? I don't understand, I really don't.

Dave Lowrey, Hartley (not a fan), Cunneyworth?

How about Gary Roberts? Clearly you don't need experience in the current NHL to get a job (Joe Sacco? Are you serious?)

There's Peter Laviolette, but I'm laying my money on him going to NJ.

30What's Next for the Dallas Stars? - Page 2 Empty Re: What's Next for the Dallas Stars? on Sat Jun 13, 2009 9:18 pm

PKC

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What about a guy like Ted Nolan? He took the worst franchise in professional sports, in my opinion, and made them a playoff team in 2007.

I mean, how the hell isn't this guy a coach in the NHL right now?

31What's Next for the Dallas Stars? - Page 2 Empty Re: What's Next for the Dallas Stars? on Sat Jun 13, 2009 10:00 pm

PTFlea

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Yeah, Nolan and Laviolette are good choices as well.

32What's Next for the Dallas Stars? - Page 2 Empty Re: What's Next for the Dallas Stars? on Sun Jun 14, 2009 4:04 pm

davetherave

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SpezDispenser wrote:
SensFan71 wrote:
who else out there is better? just wondering because I don't actually know which coaches are without jobs?

Dave Tippett? They had him and fired him for Crawford? I don't understand, I really don't.


The article posted above offers an explanation.

Sometimes NHL coaches get fired simply because it's time for a change.

Nieuwendyk certainly has the credentials and experience to make an informed decision on who he wants behind the bench.

How the Stars do next year will prove him right or wrong.

33What's Next for the Dallas Stars? - Page 2 Empty Re: What's Next for the Dallas Stars? on Tue Jun 16, 2009 1:14 am

davetherave

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The view from Dallas:

DALLAS STARS HOPING NEW COACH'S STYLE WILL GRAB ATTENTION OF TEAM
Mike Heika, The Dallas Morning News, June 13, 2009

Trevor Daley watched Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Friday and was envious.

"You watch it, and you just want to be there," the Stars defenseman said. "It's everything you work for. It just gets you burning to start the season already."

As much as new general manager Joe Nieuwendyk and Stars management are hoping to pump up the motivation with new coach Marc Crawford, players say they don't need much of a push. Many are already working out in Frisco or playing pickup games.

After missing the playoffs for only the third time since moving to Dallas in 1993, the Stars say they have received a good, hard slap in the face.

"It's killing me, to tell you the truth," winger Steve Ott said. "This is not something we're used to around here."

If the players already seem to be taking things hard after missing the playoffs, why the need to change the GM and the coach?

Owner Tom Hicks said he wanted to give a reminder that the Stars expect to be one of the best teams in the NHL every year. Nieuwendyk also said it's good to shake up the team and get its attention.

Crawford will probably do just that. He demands a lot from players, and he doesn't mind having them compete for positions and ice time. The change of coaches puts everyone on his toes.

"When you think about it, [Dave Tippett] is the only coach a lot of us have known here," Ott said. "There was a comfort level with him, an expectation that you knew where you stood. Now, honestly, that's gone. We're all at step one, and we all have to prove ourselves all over again."

Crawford said he's encouraged to see players already trying to prove themselves to one another.

"The players will dictate what kind of coach I am," he said. "They're the ones who usually decide whether you are a players' coach or a disciplinarian. What you strive for is to have it come from inside your room. In my experience, that's what the championship teams have."

Getting in position for a faster start next season will be a chief goal for Crawford and the Stars.

Asked to explain the Stars' poor training camp and poor start last season, Daley said it was tough to pin down just one or two reasons. But, he said, he already can see a difference in the team's attitude in summer workouts.
"It is different," he said. "Last year, we were probably a little happy. This year, there is no satisfaction."

The Stars have some things in order already as they look toward next season.

They have 18 players under contract, including most of those who put in big minutes last season. In addition, Brenden Morrow (knee surgery) and Brad Richards (hand and wrist injuries) should be ready to go.

Nieuwendyk has to decide if he wants to sign veterans Sergei Zubov and Jere Lehtinen, who have battled injuries the last two seasons, and he probably needs to acquire a backup goalie and a high-level defenseman. But the Stars appear to be in good shape.

"There's some work here, but I don't think it's major work," Nieuwendyk said. "Honestly, if we had to start with the group we have right now and we were healthy, I think we could be very competitive."

Morrow agreed.

"We're a good team," he said. "I feel very good about this team."

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