Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill said he is getting closer to hiring a new head coach, but he is in no rush to make a decision because he wants to be thorough with his search.
“It’s a process,” Nill said. “I’m hoping in the next couple of weeks that I can really get it narrowed down and make the final decision. “
Although he’d like it done by the NHL Draft, which is on June 30, don’t consider that a hard deadline.
“There’s no set deadline,” Nill said. “I’d like to have it done before the draft. It’d be nice. It’s nice to have your coach there during that. But I’m not going to rush into something that’s not going to make sense. I’m going to be careful that way.”
Nill is still conducting interviews. He had more scheduled for last week and there could be more ahead because the teams of some potential candidates are still playing.
“There are some guys still [going] and there are some guys whose teams have finished up and they’re still going through the process of exit interviews,” Nill said. “We’re just taking our time and waiting for things to happen.”
Nill won’t identify the candidates he has interviewed or those he might talk to down the road. He did indicate, though, that big name guys like Alain Vigneault, recently fired by Vancouver, and Lindy Ruff, fired by Buffalo during the season, are on the radar.
“Yeah, I’m not going to say out of respect for them who I’ve interviewed, but we are not leaving any leaves unturned, put it that way,” he said. “We’ve interviewed a lot of people and I’ve got more coming up. We’re looking at every angle, whether it’s a top NHL coach or the top guys down in the development leagues.”
While a lot of the attention surrounding Nill’s search has centered on those big name NHL coaches, there are some quality candidates in the minor leagues. On the day the Stars announced Glen Gulutzan had been relieved of his duties as Dallas coach, Nill said Texas Stars coach Willie Desjardins would get consideration for the opening.
When it comes to the difference between a veteran NHL coach and a top coach in the minors, Nill said there isn’t that wide a gap.
“No, there’s not. Where did Mike Babcock come from? He just didn’t fall from the sky and end up behind Detroit’s bench,” Nill said. “There’s some great coaches in the minors. Experience is important, yes. But these guys in the minors have gained a lot of experience too, maybe more than some NHL coaches. You start riding those busses and playing four games in five nights, how do you motivate a team? How do you prepare them? There’s some great young coaches in the minors too, so I’m not going to say I’ve got to have experience because those guys they’re experienced also. You’ve got to keep an open mind.”
The Stars aren’t alone in searching for a head coach. The New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks are in the market for new bench bosses as well. Nill realizes someone he is considering could be grabbed by another team, but he’s not going to panic and rush his decision because of that.
“Not really. There’s only so many teams there,” said Nill. “Now, I could wake up and two guys get signed, but that’s the business. I’m keeping in touch with the people we’re talking to and they’ve got a lot of interest in coming here also. We’re just going to stick with it and good things will happen.”