DALLAS -- During his opening marks at Monday's press conference to officially introduce Glen Gulutzan as the new coach of the Dallas Stars, General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk couldn't help but refer to the other tenant of the American Airlines Center, the Dallas Mavericks, who were crowned 2011 NBA champions just over one week ago.
Nieuwendyk, who helped bring the Stanley Cup to Dallas in 1999, the city’s last title before this year, sees many parallels between the champion Mavericks and the current Stars.
"They have tremendous leadership from top to bottom. I think they've shown from staying the course, determination and teamwork in every since of the word that you can achieve your goals. I think they're a good model for us to follow as we move forward here," Nieuwendyk said.
And even though the Stars come off a 2010-11 season where they failed to make the playoffs despite posting 95 points, there is plenty for the club's GM to be optimistic about going forward.
"While we were disappointed that we didn't make the playoffs last year, there was a lot to like and a lot to build on. It is my intention to build this team into a winner," Nieuwendyk said. "We'd all like nothing more than to have our own parade again with the Stanley Cup in downtown Dallas."
This is Gulutzan's first NHL coaching job, a position he enters after spending the last two seasons coaching the Texas Stars, Dallas' American Hockey League affiliate. He hopes to experience success similar to that of current NHL coaches like Dan Bylsma of Pittsburgh and the Capitals' Bruce Boudreau.
He already has picked the brains of several colleagues who successfully have transitioned from the AHL to the NHL.
"Yes I have. I've spoken with quite a few coaches. Todd McClellan is a good friend of mine, the coach of the San Jose Sharks. Him and I go quite a way back into the Saskatoon days. I've talked to him at length," Gulutzan said. "I've talked to Trent Yawney, who was the former coach of the Chicago Blackhawks. He's from my hometown. Davis Payne is a good friend of mine. I’ve kind of taken the same path as Davis coming from the ECHL to the American League to here. Kevin Dineen is another guy that I've used as a resource."
But no matter which of his fellow coaches he talked to, they all had one tip above all others -- manage your time wisely.
During a conference call last week, he described how he wants to see the 2011-12 Stars become a solid, two-way club. He elaborated on that vision a bit earlier Monday.
"I believe in three things," he said. "One, that you have to be hard to play against; two, you need to have good defensive structure; and three, you need to have fun playing the game. We're going to enjoy coming to the rink. You get more out of an athlete that way. My philosophy is simple -- we want to be a hard team to play against, a two-way hockey club. We don't trap. We don't sit back. We don't watch and wait. I think it's just a recipe for disaster if you become one of those teams."
And even though he comes to the Stars with no NHL experience, he knows exactly what to expect in his first swim through League waters later this year.
"Today's NHL is fast. It's skilled guys. It's young players, and you have to utilize those talents," Gulutzan said. "So we're going to play a two-way game. We're going to be a hard forechecking team. We're going to be a hard backchecking team. We're going to have good structure in the defensive zone. At the end of the day, that boils down to being hard to play against. With our goaltender and the pieces we have, I think we're very poised to be successful."
Later this week, the Stars will pick 14th in the 2011 Entry Draft. Their new coach will be in attendance but knows his role will be of a perfunctory nature.
"I think I'll just be a guy that can bring some looks to the table," Gulutzan said. "There's not much that I can do. We have Joe, Les (Jackson, Director of Scouting and Player Development) and our scouts. They work diligently all year, traveling lots of miles to watch young guys play. It's their time to shine when that draft's on. They've put in the work. I'll make sure that I shake hands and mill around, but it's their job. I'll be there hopefully just as a mantelpiece."
Two members of last year's team, captain Brenden Morrow and forward Toby Petersen, were in attendance for Monday's gathering. Morrow said he liked what he heard, and now wants to see how Gulutzan in action.
"I don't really need to see or hear anything. I know he's won at every level he's been at. That's all I really care about," Morrow said. "I am interested to see him behind the bench in the game. It's one thing to talk to a guy in June or July. It's another thing when you're down a goal or two five minutes left in the game and how he's reacting behind the bench. But from everyone I've talked to -- and I've done some homework on it -- they've all said, 'This is the guy you want leading your team.' So I'm excited about that."