Stars promote minor-leaguer Gulutzan to head coach

DALLAS (AP) - The Dallas Stars hired Glen Gulutzan to be their next coach on Friday, hoping his success with their top affiliate will continue in the NHL.

Gulutzan is 39 and has never played or coached in the NHL. His record in the minors and his familiarity with the players he's groomed for the Stars helped him emerge from a group of better-known candidates.

"We were pleased with the leadership he brought our young players at the American League level and strongly believe his coaching strengths will transfer to the NHL," general manager Joe Nieuwendyk said in a team statement. "We feel he will bring energy and a winning attitude to our club. I look forward to working with him as we plan for the future of the Dallas Stars."

Gulutzan received a two-year contract with a club option for a third.

He replaces Marc Crawford, who was fired after a loss in the season finale kept Dallas out of the playoffs. Crawford's abrasive style was his undoing as much as the Stars failing to make the postseason in either of his two seasons.

Crawford was Nieuwendyk's first hire. In going from a former Stanley Cup champion to an NHL novice, he's making quite a change.

But Gulutzan is a known commodity to the Stars' up-and-coming players and to the front office. He guided the Texas Stars to the finals in their inaugural season in 2010 and to the playoffs again this past season.

Nieuwendyk also interviewed Ken Hitchcock, the coach of Dallas' 1999 Stanley Cup champion club; Montreal assistant Kirk Muller, who was on the 2000 Dallas team that went to the Cup finals; and Nashville assistant coach Peter Horachek.

"I am very familiar with our personnel and that will be a big advantage for me," Gulutzan said. "We are a young team with a strong nucleus and I'm very excited about what we can accomplish. I look forward to working with Joe Nieuwendyk and his entire staff to build a hockey club that will win and compete for Stanley Cups."

A Saskatchewan native, Gulutzan (GULL'-it-zen) played professionally in Europe for two seasons, then played in the West Coast Hockey League and the International Hockey League. He also had stints in Finland and Sweden before his first head coaching job, running the expansion Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL. They made the playoffs in five of six seasons and reached the finals once and the conference finals another time.

Under his guidance, the Texas Stars went 87-56-17 during the regular season and 16-14 during the playoffs.