There probably hasn’t been enough made about the Dallas Stars’ unmitigated disaster of a season, going from 109 points and a division title to 73 points in 75 games thus far.
But the standings aren’t the team’s most embarrassing reversal of fortunes; no, that would be a team that was plus-37 in goal differential last season dropping to minus-32 thus far this season.
Now, one of the reasons there hasn’t been enough made of this disaster is that we all figured it was possible, given the chewing-gum-and-prayers approach to their goaltending and the diminished blue line, through personnel losses and a clunker of a season from John Klingberg.
Lambert took a hard look at what the Stars could and should do on the ice this offseason, but what about behind the bench?
When the local media treat the firing of a head coach as a formality, one trends to treat it as such. And the fate of Lindy Ruff has long seemed inevitable, after four years in Dallas.
GM Jim Nill hired him, and will fire him, and will have to be very careful with his next hire or else it could be his last with the Stars. Maybe he goes for a sure thing? A guy you know will get, at the very least, regular-season results?
Don’t know how things will shake down in Dallas and prefer not to guess. But I wonder if Ken Hitchcock will end up there in some role. Some connections remain.
It was interesting because Mike Heika, Stars beat writer for the Dallas Morning News, has made noise about this too in a recent Q&A:
If Ruff is gone at the end of the season, who are some hot coaching candidates to keep an eye on?
“I think the easy guess is former Florida coach Gerard Gallant, who played with Jim Nill in Detroit.
“I think it would mean a great deal to Ken Hitchcock to come back and turn the Stars around. This franchise and city still mean a lot to Hitch, and that would be a wonderful story.
“I’m a fan of Kirk Muller, who currently is the associate coach in Montreal. He is a power-play specialist, and I think he would have a lot to work with here. He also seems to be a players’ coach and could relate to the younger players. I would tryto get a very vocal defensive coach to pair with him. Plus, there could be coaches who are let go after the playoffs.
“The Stars might be wise to see if a good one is available there. The interesting thing is that the Stars, Panthers, Islanders and Golden Knights could already be looking for coaches, and teams like Buffalo and Winnipeg could join in. It is going to be a hectic summer for the coaches.”
My initial reason for not even considering Hitchcock as the next Stars coach starts with the fact that I thought he was retiring, but even if that wasn’t the case I wouldn’t have taken his potential candidacy seriously. The idea of Hitchcock in Dallas screams of good old days syndrome, a malady the Stars can certainly get wrapped up in from time to time.
But when you think about what the Stars need in their next head coach the idea of Ken Hitchcock starts to make more sense. Hitchcock stands for paying attention to details, being responsible defensively, and overall accountability. Are these not the biggest flaws with the current iteration of the Stars? Why not bring in a guy with a track record of success who isn’t afraid to ruffle some feathers?
When Hitchcock was fired by the Blues this season, the talk was that he wasn’t done. That despite all the talk about his being his last hurrah as a head coach, the fire was still burning.
We though Vegas would be an interesting challenge, but that doesn’t seem to have ever been a consideration for the Knights nor Hitchcock. But a team like Dallas, and a franchise for whom Hitchcock has that kind of affinity, seems like a possibility. Like Lile said: His attention to detail and accountability are things this team is screaming for. And it’s not like his systems haven’t been able to plaster over goaltending holes in the past, on the off-chance the Stars are stuck with their $10.4 million boondoggle in goal again.
But, overall, we just want to get him in front of an open mic again. Dude is gold.
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