The Dallas Stars are going to be a more defensive-minded team next season.
Lindy Ruff’s replacement hasn’t been announced yet, but all signs point toward the Stars having a defensive-minded, more disciplined coach after general manager Jim Nill addressed the media on Monday.
“I’ve already started the process. Been talking to some people already. Looking for an experienced guy, looking for a good coach,” Nill said. “This isn’t a rebuild. I think we’ve got a lot of good pieces in place. It was a tough year. The tough part was he never really had his team this year.”
“Right now I’ve had three people I’ve been talking to. May get expanded here a little bit more. I’m hoping this is going to happen pretty quickly,” Nill said. “These guys are all good coaches. This league moves pretty fast. I know there’s other teams looking at things also. I hope that this happens pretty quickly.”
If Nill has already spoken to three coaches, that likely means it’s a group consisting of Ken Hitchcock, Gerard Gallant, and Michel Therrien.
Hitchcock, who led the Stars to the 1999 Stanley Cup, was let go in the middle of this season after the St. Louis Blues goalies forgot how to stop a puck. Therrien was the coach of the first-place Montreal Canadiens until he was replaced midseason by Claude Julien, while Gallant was let go midseason by the Florida Panthers.
Each of those coaches play a more structured defensive style than Ruff. It might not be as exciting, but this past season proved the Stars need more structure and can’t outscore their problems anymore.
“In the end, good players can play good defense. Good defensive players without skill can’t play the skill game. We’re trying to build the best team we can here with the most skill,” Nill said. “And in the end, the coach’s job is going to be to give them the structure to win in the right way. Part of this too is the onus on players. They have to play the proper way.”
No matter who the coach is, they’ll likely be introduced somewhat soon. Nill looks like he wants to move quick and set a stage for the rest of the off-season.
Follow Sean Shapiro on Twitter @SeanShapiro