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Barnes Enjoys Coaching

by Ken Sins / Dallas Stars

Stars fans who were clamoring for Stu Barnes to come out of retirement and give the team's struggling penalty-killing unit a lift late last season will be disappointed to learn that Barnes never gave it a thought.

"It wasn't even a consideration,'' Barnes was saying the other day.

Barnes will remain retired, unwilling to risk another knock to the head.

A concussion sustained during the 2008 playoffs led Barnes to coaching. The blow to the head on April 30 forced him to miss the final nine games of the Stars' remarkable 2008 postseason run.

After considering his options over the summer, he signed a two-year deal to join the Dallas coaching staff in late August of 2008. He and his family enjoy living in Plano, and Barnes felt he absorbed enough about the coaching business during his first year to merit a second season.

"For me it was just learning,'' Barnes said. "If I helped some players a little, who knows. The fortunate thing is we've got a good group of coaches and players who helped along the way. Hopefully I'll be better at what I do.''

In 16 NHL seasons, Barnes amassed 597 points (261 goals, 336 assists) in 1,136 games with the Winnipeg Jets, Florida Panthers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Buffalo Sabres and the Stars.

He also skated in 116 Stanley Cup playoff games over 12 postseasons, recording 30 goals and 32 assists. He reached the Finals twice, with Buffalo in 1999 when he lost to the Stars, and with Florida in 1996, falling to Colorado.

In one of the franchise's best trades, the Stars acquired Barnes from the Sabres on March 10, 2003 for Mike Ryan and a second-round draft choice. In 329 games for Dallas, Barnes had 53 goals and 67 assists, and added 14 points in 38 playoff games for the Stars.

Beyond the numbers, the native of Spruce Grove, Alberta was best known for his penalty killing and his smarts. 

Toward the end of his career, Barnes was considered a coach-on-the-ice. Now he is imparting that hockey sense to the Stars' younger players.

"It was good,'' Barnes said of his first season as a coach. "Who knows how it's going to go your first year out of the game and taking on something like this, but it was an interesting year, I learned a lot. Everybody was very helpful and allowed me to learn.''

With the team struggling on the ice, Barnes admits that for a fleeting second, he entertains thoughts of lacing on the skates. But reality soon takes over.

"You always think you want to help any way you can, especially being a player for so long,'' he said. "You always have that in your nature that you want to help immediately. But sooner or later the playing side comes to an end and it was this year.''

So he'll be back for another coaching stint as the Stars attempt to rebound from a disappointing season, missing the playoffs for only the second time in the last 12 years.

"We'll keep going with this for a while and see how it goes,'' he said. "My approach going in was to give it a try and see what I thought of it and learn as much as I can and go from there. Coaching is no different than playing. It's more fun when you win. That's what we wanted to do and what we're trying to figure out how to do it.''

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