The Dallas Stars relieved Glen Gulutzan of his duties Tuesday. He (and assistant coach Paul Jerrard) will be seeking employment with another franchise next season after the Stars yet again failed to make the playoffs.
Gulutzan made some mistakes in his time with the Stars. Ultimately, he is being held accountable by new General Manager Jim Nill.
The case for firing Gulutzan is fairly easy to make, and when a new general manager of considerable pedigree takes over a struggling franchise, there is a certain expectation that swift change is coming. This move has been telegraphed for weeks.
He made mistakes, but the ultimate mistake may have been hiring him in the first place.
That isn't to say Gulutzan can't be an NHL-caliber coach, or that he has some inherent flaw. It was fairly clear he wasn't ready for an NHL gig, and given what needed to be done, he wouldn't have been a particularly good fit anyway.
The Stars needed someone to forge an identity. They needed someone to put some structure in place. They needed to enforce a strict chain of command from general manage down to the 23rd man on the roster.
None of this really happened with Gulutzan under contract, and the Stars have floundered due to a lack of leadership across the board for several seasons. He has now been held accountable for those failures, and you can expect the Stars to go for a much more authoritative head coach in their next hire.
The names of Alain Vigneault (Vancouver Canucks head coach), Dave Tippett (former Stars head coach who has impressed with the Phoenix Coyotes), and Willie Desjardins (Texas Stars head coach) have been bandied about locally. Any of the three would be worthy hires capable of propelling the Stars in the right direction on the ice.
This job opening is much more attractive than it was when Gulutzan came aboard. The Stars have a respectable group of prospects and some solid young players on the roster -- and are now being run by a well-respected general manager. The best candidates should view this opening as a positive situation despite the recent lack of success of the franchise.
Ideally, the next man to fill the position will be known within the next two to three weeks so the Stars can begin planning in earnest for free agency.