For the second time in their brief history the Texas Stars have dipped into the ECHL for a head coach. Texas announced Wednesday that Jeff Pyle, who had served as head coach of the Gwinnett Gladiators for the past eight seasons, would become the second bench boss in the franchise history.
“He’s paid his dues,” said Texas Stars GM Scott White. “I like the energy and passion that he brings. He’s a smart hockey guy and he is really deserving of this opportunity.”
Pyle, 52, replaces Glen Gulutzan, who coached Texas in its first two seasons of existence and is now head coach of the Dallas Stars.
Pyle posted a 309-210-57 record during his eight seasons with Gwinnett and led the team to the Kelly Cup Finals in 2006. His team posted five straight 40-win seasons from 2003-2008. He also coached the Mobile Mysticks of the ECHL from 1998-02, posting a 137-113-34 mark. His 446 victories rank third all-time in the league.
Pyle has a reputation for developing players. That ability might have hurt his team last season. Gwinnett, which started the season strong, lost several players to call ups and ended up missing the playoffs. Still, his teams made the playoffs in 9 of his 12 total seasons in the ECHL.
When it comes to style of play, Pyle said he likes his teams to push the pace, but to be smart about it and defensively aware.
“I kind of like to be up-tempo. I like when the game opens up they can be creative,” he said. “When they have the chance to do the little things well and you can be offensive, I want them to go. When they can’t, I want them to make smart decisions and be as proud to stop a goal as they are to score one. If we do the little things well and our specialty teams are good, then I think we’ll be fine.”
Expectations of his players are straight forward.
“I just want them to be hard working; I want them to be committed to each other. That’s really all it is,” Pyle said. “If they’re committed to the game and work hard then they’ll be fine.”
Accountability is a word that came up often as people talked about Pyle, a Minnesota native who played in the North American minor leagues and in Germany.
“Accountability is a big thing for Coach Pyle. Jeff is a family guy, a personable guy. He’ll get to know his players, he’ll know what buttons to push. I think our players like that,” said White. “They’ve been treated well here for a couple years on and off the ice by our coaching staff, which is now in Dallas. I expect the same to occur this season.”
Forward Ryan Garbutt, who was signed by Dallas to two-way contract earlier this month and is expected to play with Texas this season, played under Pyle briefly with Gwinnett last season.
“Of all the stuff he makes you accountable for, one thing was winning. When I was there we won eight of our ten games and it was great to be a part of,” Garbutt said. “He instilled success in his players and that made him fun to play for.”
Pyle will be formally introduced at a press conference in Cedar Park on Friday afternoon. Texas is still in the process of hiring an assistant coach to replace Paul Jerrard, who took an assistant’s job under Gulutzan in Dallas. A decision on that could come soon.