-- The Glen Gulutzan Era officially is underway in Dallas.
Stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk
announced the 39-year-old Gulutzan as the 21st head coach in franchise history on Friday. He replaces Marc Crawford
, who was fired in April after two seasons at the helm where the Stars failed to make the playoffs.
"It's an exciting day for us," Nieuwendyk said on a conference call with reporters. "We went through a thorough search and really had some good candidates that were impressive and it made the decision even tougher. He (Gulutzan) is the right guy for the job and we couldn't be happier."
Gulutzan had spent the last two seasons coaching the Texas Stars, Dallas' American Hockey League affiliate. He led them to the AHL playoffs both seasons, including a trip to the 2010 Calder Cup final. His overall record was 87-56-17 in the regular season and 16-14 in the playoffs.
"I'm extremely excited to be part of the organization," Gulutzan said. "It's a great opportunity for a young coach. I'm willing to bring work ethic and a real good team-structure game. I think we can do real good things."
"At the end of the day, it's the same game and the same mistakes are being made. It's just at a higher level with bigger, stronger players. I can remember my first impression of the American Hockey League and am sure I'm going to have that same first impression come October." -- Glen Gulutzan
Before his two seasons in the AHL, he spent six seasons coaching Las Vegas of the ECHL. He led the Wranglers to the postseason in all but one season at the helm, amassing a record of 254-124-53 in the regular season and 36-31 in the postseason.
"I enjoyed myself in Vegas. I loved Austin and this is the next step," Gulutzan said. "I feel very fortunate to be here."
However, there is one pretty big question mark as he has yet to coach in the NHL in any capacity. However, Nieuwendyk said he isn't at all concerned about his new hire's lack of NHL experience.
Gulutzan's hiring, though, is a sharp departure for Nieuwendyk compared to when he named Crawford, who won a Stanley Cup in 1996 and had coached three other NHL teams, coach two years ago.
"I was looking for the right guy for the job," said Nieuwendyk. "I guess it goes back to the youth movement. Even though Glen is young and hasn't coached a game in the National Hockey League, his strengths are exactly what I feel this team needs -- the structure, the style of play. The bottom line is he gets it. He understands players. He understands how to mesh players and get the most out of their abilities."
And it doesn't hurt that several members of the team's young core, including emerging left wing Jamie Benn
, played for Gulutzan in the AHL. With the Stars likely bolstering their ranks from within the organization, this hiring looks like it makes sense on that level.
That solid rapport with younger players in the organization definitely was a big factor in his hiring.
"If you're there with them in the grassroots, you know them as a player. It's almost like raising a child," Gulutzan said. "I think if you know their past, it's easier to relate with them and you can help them if you understand their strengths and weaknesses."
To label Gulutzan merely as someone who was brought in to work with the Stars' younger players does him a great disservice, according to Nieuwendyk.
"I don't want it to be a misconception that we have a young coach that is good to be with young players. We have a young coach that is going to be our leader and that's where his strengths lie," Nieuwendyk said. "Even though he's young, he has a relationship with our guys. They're certainly going to know who's in charge and they'll play hard for him."
So what's his coaching philosophy? Actually, it's pretty simple.
"The way I describe my philosophy is that I'd like to be a two-way hockey club," Gulutzan said. "The best way to describe my style is just a hard, two-way game that has some tempo. I think that's today's hockey."
And what about making the jump from the AHL to the NHL? He made a successful transition from the ECHL to the AHL, and the new Dallas coach plans to take the lessons he learned from that process into his new gig.
"At the end of the day, it's the same game and the same mistakes are being made. It's just at a higher level with bigger, stronger players," Gulutzan said. "I can remember my first impression of the American Hockey League and am sure I'm going to have that same first impression come October."