The Dallas Stars pulled the trigger on the move that we were all expecting them to, when they fired Glen Gulutzan earlier this week. With new general manager Jim Nill at the helm, you knew a shakeup was coming, and Gulutzan was the first casualty.
That move has opened up the speculation as to who the next coach of the Stars will be. At this point, there aren’t a ton of options simply due to the fact that several of their potential choices are still under contract with their respective team. That could change in the very near future, though.
A prime candidate here is sure to be Alain Vigneault. He has an outstanding track record with the Vancouver Canucks, despite several consecutive years of playoff failure. The style of game that he’d bring to the table is exactly what this Stars team needs.
That’s assuming Vigneault is fired. After two consecutive first round exits for the Canucks, you can probably expect that to happen. If the Stars go out and get him, they’ll have a guy behind the bench with a career record of 422-288-61, with two years of at least 50 wins prior to this lockout-shortened campaign. Not too shabby.
Two other wildly popular candidates are familiar faces. One is still in the organization, one is about to have the door opened for him to make a return to the Stars.
Curt Fraser is a favorite for the job for a couple of different reasons. The first is the fact that he’s already familiar with the Stars organization, having served as an assistant coach. He was retained after Gulutzan was fired. He’s also familiar with Nill, having worked with him during their days in the Detroit Red Wings organization. He’s definitely in the mix.
Then there’s Dave Tippett. The former Stars head coach is going to be a heavy target for this club, as he’s a coaching free agent this summer, with his deal with the Phoenix Coyotes set to expire. If the Coyotes are unable to bring him back, as they will likely make a strong effort to keep him around, the Stars will likely swoop right in and try to get him back behind the bench.
Tippett was fired after 2009, but has been a wildly successful coach in 10 seasons, only missing out on the postseason twice. Of course, his actual playoff success has been limited, both with the Stars in his previous tenure and in the past few seasons with the Coyotes.
There are sure to be other candidates. Guy Boucher and Lindy Ruff are another names that will likely be in the mix. But the trio of Vigneault, Fraser, and Tippett (in no particular order, mind you) are sure to be the top dogs fighting for this job when the Stars officially get their search underway.