Dallas Stars: Jeff Pyle

The Dallas Stars and Texas Stars announced this morning that Texas Stars head coach Jeff Pyle and assistant coach Jeff Truitt have been relieved of their duties.

Texas finished last in the AHL's Western Conference and 29th in a 30 team league with a 31-40-5 record this season. The team missed the playoffs for the first time in its three year existence.

"These are difficult decisions," said Dallas Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk. "We fell short of where we thought the bar needed to be this year with respect to our minor league team. I think looking ahead we realize the importance of the situation here moving forward, especially with all those kids we have coming in to that team. We just felt it was the right decision for our organization moving forward."

Several of Dallas' top prospects will play in Texas next season, including goaltender Jack Campbell, defenseman Jamie Oleksiak, defenseman Patrik Nemeth, forward Alex Chiasson and forward Austin Smith. Campbell, Chiasson and Smith played there the final few weeks of this season.

Pyle and Truitt took over the Texas Stars last summer after head coach Glen Gulutzan and assistant Paul Jerrard, who had guided Texas to the playoffs in the team's first two seasons, were promoted to the Dallas Stars' coaching staff.

Nieuwendyk said the Stars are in no rush to find a replacement.

"We'll let the dust settle a bit and we'll have plenty of time to go through the [search process]," Nieuwendyk said.
CEDAR PARK, Texas -- Dallas Stars goaltending prospect Jack Campbell played his final game of the season with the Texas Stars of the AHL on Sunday, and turned in another solid performance. He stopped 31 shots in a 2-1 loss at Houston.

Campbell ended his first foray into the pro ranks with a 4-7-0 record, 3.02 goals against average and a .912 save percentage. The numbers don’t jump out at you, but sometimes the numbers don’t tell the whole story. Those who have been around Campbell in the AHL are impressed.

“He’s phenomenal,” said Texas coach Jeff Pyle. “The kid has a work ethic second to none. He’s a professional, great kid, character guy. All he cares about is the game, which is refreshing.”

“I wish we had had Jack in January,” said Texas GM Scott White. “The youthful energy and the passion he has for the game, we’ve always known it. Living it now for a good three weeks, it’s been fun. He works harder than anyone in practice. I think that work ethic holds your teammates accountable.”

His play has been solid as well. He’s given his team a chance to win on most nights. And, at times, he’s been spectacular.

“He doesn’t quit on any puck,” said White. “(Friday) night in San Antonio he made just a couple of ridiculous saves that a lot of guys wouldn’t have tried. He doesn’t quit. These games are invaluable to him for his progression.”

The 20-year-old Michigan native didn’t wade into his AHL career. Once he got to Cedar Park he started every game, the final 12 of the season for the Texas Stars. His first two starts came on the road against two of the top teams in the Western Conference. He had a solid 32-save effort in a 3-1 loss to Oklahoma City in his pro debut. Two nights later he got his first pro win, stopping 32 shots in a 4-2 victory at Toronto. In his fifth start, he posted a 30-save shutout win over Lake Erie at Cedar Park Center.

“It was awesome and to do it in front of the fans, who are unbelievable, was pretty cool,” Campbell said of the shutout. “It was one of the most memorable games of my career. Hopefully there are a lot more of those to come.”

There have been some ups and downs since joining Texas. He won three of his first five decisions, but lost five of his last six. He’s played well, backstopping a team that has been plagued by turnovers and defensive lapses all season. It’s a reason Texas ended up last in the Western Conference this season.

But this was about Campbell getting experience at the pro level and helping set him up for next season, which will be his first full year of professional hockey.

“It’s huge for my development, the experience for next season, to get me down here early and play some games,” Campbell said. “I’m learning what it takes to have success at this level. I feel like I am learning a lot and trying to do that every single day.”

As is the case with any young player, it’s been an adjustment. The players are better, plays happen faster and shots get to the net quicker. But the game is also more structured than in junior hockey, and Campbell sees that as a plus.

“That’s why I think I struggled in juniors. I tend to play pretty quick in the crease and I got beat too much because I was ahead of the play,” Campbell said. “Here it is so fast and structured and in control. It’s more structured and the guys know what they have to do. Everybody is so good that you just have to take care of your job.”

Campbell joined Texas last month after two seasons of junior hockey in the Ontario Hockey League. Campbell played for both Windsor and Sault Ste. Marie, posting a 45-29-11 record, 3.62 goals against average and .890 save percentage. He helped Windsor to get into the playoffs last year, but Sault Ste. Marie missed the postseason this year.

Overall, the junior years didn’t go the way Campbell had hoped and he kept his assessment of his OHL career short and to the point.

“I’ll leave it at this: I learned a lot and I’ve taken a lot from it, more from the mental side of it. I am ready to move on,” he said. “I am feeling great out here and feeling great for next season.”

Next season will be Campbell’s first full season as a pro and he’s expected to spend it with the Texas Stars, developing and getting better. He realizes Dallas is solid in goaltending at the NHL level and he’ll have to be patient waiting for his shot at the NHL to come. But he wants to make the most of that time, working to improve his game so that when his time does come he’ll be ready.

“My goal since I have been drafted is to make the Dallas Stars and I am going to work as hard as I can to show them that I am ready whenever they want me,” said Campbell. “They have two great goalies up there. Kari Lehtonen is one of the best in the NHL and Bachs (Richard Bachman) is playing great up there as well, and took that job up there. They have two great goalies, but if I am needed I want to show them that I am ready to go.”
The Texas Stars have rounded out their coaching staff, naming Jeff Truitt as assistant coach. Truitt, who had been with San Antonio of the AHL, joins Jeff Pyle, who was named head coach of Texas last week. Here's the press release.
Texas Stars General Manager Scott White announced on Monday that the team has named Jeff Truitt Assistant Coach.

Truitt brings a wealth of hockey experience to Texas, joining newly appointed Head Coach Jeff Pyle behind the Stars bench. He comes to the Stars after spending the 2010-11 season as an assistant coach with San Antonio, helping the Rampage post its best record in four seasons (40-33-4-5, 87 points). In 2009-10, he served as the Director of Hockey Operations for the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League (WHL). The Warriors finished with a 33-27-0-12 mark and made an appearance in the 2010 WHL Playoffs. Prior to his time in Moose Jaw, Truitt spent two season coaching in the AHL with the Springfield Falcons. Truitt was the Falcons’ assistant coach in 2007-08 and then took over as the head coach in 2008-09. Truitt’s team posted a 16-27-0-7 mark in 50 games.

“We are pleased to add Jeff Truitt to our coaching staff here in Texas,” said General Manager Scott White. “He has experience at the AHL level and has proven that he can work with young players. We expect him to play a key role in developing future Dallas Stars.”

From 1993-2007, Truitt enjoyed coaching success in the WHL with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and the Kelowna Rockets. He served as an assistant coach in Lethbridge from 1993-96, then moved on to Kelowna in the same capacity from 2000-04. The native of Rosetown, SK earned a promotion to Head Coach in Kelowna in 2004. He guided the Rockets to a WHL Championship and an appearance in the Memorial Cup in the spring of 2005. In three seasons with Truitt as the head coach, the Rockets posted a 113-76-18-9 mark with two postseason appearances. In his seven seasons with Kelowna, the Rockets won two WHL championships (2003, 2005), two WHL regular season titles (2003, 2004), made three consecutive trips to the Memorial Cup tournament (2003, 2004, 2005) and one Memorial Cup championship (2004). Truitt was also instrumental in helping Team Canada’s National Junior Team win a silver medal in 2004, as well as taking gold by winning the under-18 world juniors in 2004.

Truitt and his wife Shauna have two children; son Cale and daughter Kerrington.
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.
The Texas Stars have hired Jeff Pyle to be their new head coach.

Pyle, who replaces Glen Gulutzan, has been the head coach of the Gwinnett Gladiators of the ECHL the last eight seasons. Here is the release:
Texas Stars General Manager Scott White announced on Wednesday that Jeff Pyle has been named the second head coach in team history.

“It was a thorough process for us and in the end our management in Dallas felt Jeff was a perfect fit for the job,” said Scott White. “He brings a lot of experience to the rink on a daily basis. Jeff has a strong track record of developing players for the next level. We feel Coach Pyle will help us continue the success the Texas Stars have experienced in the first two years of operation.”

Pyle, 52, joins the Stars from the Gwinnett Gladiators of the ECHL where he served as head coach for the past eight seasons. During his time with Gwinnett, Pyle posted a 309-210-57 record. He guided the Gladiators to the 2006 Kelly Cup Finals in his best season as head coach with a 50-15-7 record (.743), which also marked only the 9th time in the ECHL's 24-year history that a team achieved 50 wins. The Gladiators also compiled five straight 40-win seasons from 2003-08 with Pyle at the helm. Gwinnett qualified for the playoffs in six of Pyle’s eight seasons. Overall, his teams qualified for the playoffs nine out of 12 years with the ECHL.

“It’s a great opportunity for me,” said Pyle. “The Stars organization is extremely professional and I was impressed with them during the interview process. I feel that everyone in the organization is on the same page as far as the direction and vision of where this team needs to go. My family and I are looking forward to getting to central Texas and continuing the success of the Texas Stars.”

He is tied with Dallas Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan, making three ECHL All-Star appearances behind the bench. Pyle sits in the top five for best coaching marks in the ECHL, including regular season wins (446, 3rd), seasons coached (12, 3rd), regular season games coached (860, 3rd), playoff appearances (9, 3rd) and playoff games coached (72, 5th). In 2006-07, his Gladiators set an ECHL record by scoring 120 power-play goals in one season. The season before, his squad turned in the third highest total in one season by notching 114 power-play tallies. In 2004-05, Gwinnett’s penalty kill set an ECHL record by allowing the fewest power-play goals in one season.

The Minneapolis, MN native also coached the Mobile Mysticks of the ECHL from 1998-02, going 137-113-34. After coaching in Germany for six seasons, Pyle was an assistant coach for Grand Rapids of the International Hockey League in 1997-98. He was a player/assistant coach in 1986-87 with Saginaw of the IHL.

Prior to coaching, he played 13 professional seasons in North America and Germany starting in 1981-82 with Binghamton of the AHL. Pyle played five seasons in the IHL, two with Flint and three with Saginaw. In 795 games spanning his 10-year career, Pyle amassed 1,313 points (490g-823a) and was named team MVP nine times and contributed to four league titles.

Pyle and his wife, Cathy, have a son, Ryan, and a daughter, Lauren.

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