DALLAS -- When Glen Gulutzan officially was introduced as the 21st coach in Dallas Stars history Monday, two of his new players were in attendance. Joining talented young winger Toby Petersen in the back of the room was a man who has been a face of the franchise since Mike Modano left the club in 2010 -- captain Brenden Morrow.
Gulutzan will be the fourth different coach the Dallas captain has played for since making his NHL debut for the Stars during the 1999-2000 season.
One thing the veteran center has done is talked to several of his younger teammates who have played for Gulutzan so he can gain an accurate picture about what to expect. One of those he talked to was current teammate Jamie Benn, who played for Gulutzan during the 2009-10 season with the AHL's Texas Stars.
Morrow also talked to former Dallas defenseman Andrew Hutchinson, who played five games for the Penguins this past season. Both he and Benn offered similar rave reviews about Gulutzan.
"Just hearing them talk about him and them playing for him, the respect they had for him (was unanimous). It was all the same. There wasn't a bad word about him," Morrow said. "I'm sure some of those guys weren't in the lineup full-time. Those are guys that you want to talk to see how he handles those situations. To have those guys still respect him and hold him in that high praise, it speaks volumes about him."
During his more than a decade in the League, Morrow has played for coaches with all different styles. From what he has learned about his newest boss, he expects him to find a happy medium between being a yeller and screamer and being a player's coach.
"I've played under (Ken) Hitchcock when we were an all-veteran team … he was tough. He yelled and screamed and it worked," said Morrow. "Then, I played for another coach who yelled and screamed. We were a young team and some guys, it elevates their game; some guys, it kind of puts them into a bit of a shell. I'm thinking that from the things that I've heard about Gully, he does a pretty good job of recognizing the personalities he has -- the character of the guys he has -- and he can kind of cater to them individually to get them to perform better. He knows the guys he can push and the guys you need to kind of coddle along."
And while some around the League might question Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk's decision to go with a coach without any NHL coaching experience, the recent success of fellow AHL expatriates like Dan Bylsma -- who won a Stanley Cup in Pittsburgh in 2009 -- gives him instant credibility in the Dallas room.
"You see guys around the League that have had success doing it. It's a lot easier sell," Morrow said. "Sometimes the guys that get recycled around the League, they're not having the success. Time will tell for how it works out, but right now, we're excited to have him here. He's had success at every other level, so why not here?"
Toward the end of Monday's press conference, Gulutzan mentioned that one thing he especially liked about the roster he's inheriting was the strong character he has seen in the Stars over the last few years -- something he attributes to a strong core of leadership, which obviously Morrow has a big role in.
"I slipped him a 20 earlier before (he said that)," Morrow joked. "Yeah, those are nice things to hear. Our relationship is something we need to work on, the coach/captain relationship. He's a Saskatchewan guy. We've probably got a lot of things in common that we haven't really talked about other than the 5-10 minutes we spoke since he's been part of the organization at training camp. Those are things I look forward to."
Morrow even admitted that he will make more of a conscious effort to develop a stronger relationship with his coach than he has in the past -- especially compared to how things started between him and former coach Marc Crawford, who was hired two summers ago before being fired in mid-April.
While there is no questioning the hockey credentials or background of Nieuwendyk's second coaching hire as the club's GM, Morrow does want to see one thing but realizes that won’t come until the season starts.
"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."