In a telephone conversation, Dallas Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk said he has started exploratory phone conversations with potential new coaches for the Stars.
Nieuwendyk said the process to get a new coach could be slow, and said he and the front office are walking a sort of tightrope in trying to get this done.
On one hand, he would like a new owner to be a part of (or at least aware of) the selection process, and with Vancouver businessman Tom Gaglardi in an exclusive 30-day negotiation window, there is a chance Gaglardi could be the owner by early June.
On the other hand, there is nothing new this week to be reported on the sale and there still is a matter of clearing the new owner through bankruptcy court _ something that could take the process into July or even later if complications pop up.
``There is an ideal way of doing this, and we'd love to try to follow that path,'' Nieuwendyk said of allowing an owner to be involved. ``However, there also are other factors that will push from the outside and may force a decision more quickly. We've been patient and we've been prepared in other areas as we've dealt with the ownership situation, and we'll just have to do that here. Really, we have to be ready for anything.''
Nieuwendyk said he has initiated phone contact with some of these coaches and that some coaches have initiated contact with him, but he listed as people he has talked to as: Texas Stars coach Glen Gulutzan, Stars associate coach Willie Desjardins, Montreal assistant coach Kirk Muller, former Stars coach Ken Hitchcock, former Montreal head coach Guy Carbonneau, former Ottawa coach Cory Clouston and coaching veteran Mike Keenan.
Nieuwendyk said not to draw any conclusions on that group or anybody that might be missing from that group. He said he expects to talk to a lot of people.
However, what is interesting in the process is that he said he would like to keep his in-person interviews to about three. He said that might change if he has some dynamic phone conversations, but he stressed that he would like to keep his list pretty short and serious.
That said, he will have to play this thing by ear when it comes to coaches who might be interested in other jobs. There are open coaching positions in Minnesota, New Jersey, Florida and Ottawa, as well. So if a coach is interviewing for another job, Nieuwendyk will have to either move quickly or let a coach go.
Last summer, Columbus and Tampa Bay got in a bit of battle to get coach Guy Boucher. Tampa Bay won that battle, and Columbus ended up hiring Scott Arniel. Boucher has the Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals, and while there is more involved to that than just coaching, there is something to be said for getting your first choice.
Both Gulutzan and Desjardins are under contract for next season, and both are considered serious candidates for the Stars head coaching job, so that may be the ace card that allows Nieuwendyk to be patient. We'll just have to wait and see.