A lot of people have asked me why Joe Nieuwendyk fired Marc Crawford on Tuesday, and the best answer I can come up with is Buck Showalter. When the Rangers fired Showalter, it wasn't because he couldn't coach, it was because Jon Daniels felt the team could not make the necessary steps forward with Showalter as manager. And I think that's the conclusion that Joe Nieuwendyk came to. Crawford is a very smart man, and an accomplished coach, but he simply was not going to push this particular team forward. Not unlike Showalter, Crawford likes to control most things with his team. He was one of the rare coaches who rotated not only the forwards but the defense pairs, and he definitely liked to have a say in all of the decisions. So when a coach makes all the decisions, and the team doesn't respond well, then there is going to be more responsibility for decisions made. It goes with the territory. The Stars had a ton of tests this year, and we have pointed them all out. That big homestand. The ensuing road trip. The final game against the Wild. The Stars didn't respond well. Is some of that on the players? Yes. Is as much on the coaches? It has to be. The players also had some of the same questions you did about the coaching. Why did Crawford lean so heavily on Kari Lehtonen when Andrew Raycroft seemed like a viable alternative? Why did he favor Jeff Woywitka over Mark Fistric. Why was he constantly juggling lines? Why wasn't Loui Eriksson out there more at the end of games. Crawford had a tough job. There were injury issues, there was the big trade that took away James Neal and shook up the chemistry a little, there were moves made (like Brandon Segal to the minors) that were made simply because of money concerns. But, when he made a move that didn't work out, it eroded the confidence of the players. The other problem that Crawford had is that he is an old school coach. He was not going to bond with the players or push many individual motivational buttons. He was going to give them the structure to play, but he left it up to them to find the reason to play. That's not that unusual in this business, but it was different from what the players had seen from Ken Hitchcock or Dave Tippett. The stories of Hitchcock's ability to poke Mike Modano at the right time are legendary, and Tippett got more out of Mike Ribeiro because he knew exactly what buttons to push. Again, that's difference between Buck Showalter and Ron Washington. The players find a different gear for Washington. Joe Nieuwendyk honestly believes that Marc Crawford has done a ton of good things, but it became very clear that the players didn't respond to his style of coaching in very big games this season. So, then, the question begins if that was a short-term deal or a long-term deal? If it can't be fixed, then it was best to just make a hard decision and move forward in a different direction. Nieuwendyk decided this one couldn't be fixed. Daniels did the same thing. Now, the key to this whole thing is finding the ``next'' coach. Daniels was either a genius or darn lucky…or a little of both. Nieuwendyk has to be just as smart and just as lucky. He knows what he wants, but he has to be able to find it. The good thing is he has time. You can't bother Glen Gultzan with this stuff right now, he has a team to coach in the playoffs. You can't even talk to Kirk Muller or Mike Haviland, because they are busy as assistant coaches with their respective teams. But, you can watch and observe and talk to people…and Nieuwendyk needs that time right now. One of the mistakes he made in hiring Crawford in the first place is he didn't really take his time. He knew that he wanted to put his stamp on the team when he was hired as GM, and he decided quickly that Dave Tippett does not coach a style that he embraces (too cautious, too defensive). I respect that in Nieuwendyk. I truly believe that a GM has to build a team in a style that he believes in. Bob Gainey builds in his style. Lou Lamoriello builds in his style. Pierre Lacroix built in his style. They are all different, but their approach works because the style is true to who the individual is. Joe Nieuwendyk could not build around Dave Tippett beause it's not the style he wants his team to play. He has to be true to what he believes. Nieuwendyk hired Marc Crawford with a heavy recommendation from his mentor Cliff Fletcher (the NHL person who Nieuwendyk might be closest to), and that was smart at the time. You trust people who have been in the business. But Nieuwendyk has now been at this job for two years, and he has the experience, the knowledge and the confidence to lead this job search on his own. He trusted his gut in firing Marc Crawford, and now he will trust his gut on this hiring. And my gut says he will make the right choice.