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Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Slow going on Stars' search for coach

By Mark Stepneski

The search for the next coach of the Dallas Stars has been slow going so far, but it should start to gain a little steam soon.

“We’re in the early stages,” said Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk, who is currently out of town for a couple days. “When I get back we’ll start to formulate a plan moving forward here, but there hasn’t been any urgency on our part. We’ve been kind of waiting to see what kind of direction things would go as far as ownership. I think now we’re in a position where we can start to move forward.”

The resolution of the ownership situation continues to move along. Vancouver businessman Tom Gaglardi is in an exclusive negotiating period during which he is trying to finalize a deal for the team. The process would still have to run through bankruptcy court, but there is a chance it could be wrapped up in early June. It could take longer if there are some snags along the way.

So far there have been no formal interviews, but Nieuwendyk has had some contact “in one way or another” with potential candidates. Among that group appear to be Montreal assistant coach Kirk Muller, Texas Stars coach Glen Gulutzan, Dallas Stars associate coach Willie Desjardins and former Dallas Stars coach Ken Hitchcock, who just wrapped up a stint as head coach of Team Canada at the World Championship in Slovakia.

He expects to have initial talks with more, put together a list and get down to the serious business of conducting interviews.

“In my head there is no set number of interviews,” he said. “I would say three, four or five is probably the right range.”

Nieuwendyk said there is no time frame for concluding the search and no matter how long the process takes he is confident the Stars - who are one of five teams currently looking for a new head coach - will get a quality successor for Marc Crawford, who was fired at the end of the season.

“I think we feel comfortable that once we go through the process we’ll find the right guy,” Nieuwendyk said.

No movement on Stars’ UFAs

Nieuwendyk said movement concerning the Stars’ pending unrestricted free agents is on hold right now due to ownership situation.

“It’s kind of muddy because of the timing of the ownership, trying to sort out what our budget will be and then we can move forward from there,” Nieuwendyk said. “I have reached out to them to indicate to them that we haven’t made any decision and we’ll be in touch.”

Brad Richards, Jamie Langenbrunner, Karlis Skrastins, Brian Sutherby, Brandon Segal, Jeff Woywitka and Jason Williams are among the team’s key unrestricted free agents.