Glen Gulutzan's title officially has been changed from Texas Stars coach to Dallas Stars coach.
Dallas general manager Joe Nieuwendyk announced Friday morning that Gulutzan, who had coached the AHL Texas team the past two seasons, has been hired as the 21st coach in Dallas franchise history.
Gulutzan, 39, signed a two-year contract, with a club option for a third year. In two seasons with Texas, he had a record of 87-56-7-10 and a 16-14 mark in the playoffs. He has never played or coached in the NHL.
In the team's inaugural season in 2009-10, he led Texas to the Calder Cup finals. The Stars made it to the playoffs again this past season.
"Even though he's young and hasn't coached a game in the NHL, his strengths are exactly what we need," Nieuwendyk said. "He just gets it. He understands players. He understands how to mesh players and how to get the most from their ability. We've seen that from talking to players who played for him. We were highly impressed with the structure and the style of play, just the bench demeanor of Glen. I think that's going to translate well with our players."
Nieuwendyk said it would be a "misconception that we hired a young coach to go with our young players."
"He's going to be our leader," Nieuwendyk said. "Even though he's young, has a relationship with some of our guys, they're certainly going to know who is in charge and they will play hard for him."
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.
Gulutzan takes over for Marc Crawford, who was fired at the end of this past season. The Stars failed to make the playoffs in Crawford's two seasons behind the bench and have not made it to the postseason in three straight seasons.
"Having worked with the organization over the last two seasons, 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."
It's getting the older guys to believe in him that could be his biggest challenge, and he knows it.
"First and foremost, if you can show the veteran players that what you're trying to do will benefit them and the team as a whole, if they can truly believe you're trying to help them, then everyone can grow from those relationships," Gulutzan said. "The easiest selling point is to have success. That's what makes everyone buy in."
During his eight years as a head coach, Gulutzan has made the playoffs seven times. Before Texas, he was head coach and general manager with the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL from 2003 to 2009, compiling a 254-124-55 record and making the playoffs in five of six seasons.
The Wranglers put together 100-plus points in three straight seasons (2005-08), a first for any team in the 21-year history of the ECHL. Gulutzan led Las Vegas to the Kelly Cup finals in 2008 and to the conference finals in 2009. He was the 2005-06 ECHL coach of the year.
A native of Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan, Gulutzan, a former center, played professionally in the West Coast Hockey League, International Hockey League and in Sweden and Finland.
He received a bachelor's degree in education from the University of Saskatchewan in 1996, majoring in kinesiology, with a minor in mathematics.
Dallas was in the conference finals as recently as 2008, but hasn't made the playoffs since. In addition to a coaching turnstile -- from Dave Tippett to Crawford to Gulutzan -- the club is in the process of being sold.
Gulutzan said he was willing to wade into this sticky situation in part because of what a great opportunity it is. But he also believes the team is on the way back up.
"Everyone in the hockey world knows the pieces are here -- goaltending, skill up front," he said. "We just have to add to it now."
The Stars will hold a news conference Monday to formally introduce Gulutzan.
Mark Stepneski covers the Stars for ESPNDallas.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.