Dallas Stars: Stu Barnes

Friday notes: Traverse City TV coverage

September, 2, 2011
A couple of notes to kick off a Labor Day weekend.

*You'll get a chance to see Dallas Stars prospects play at the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Michigan thanks to MSG Network and the NHL Network. NHLN is picking up MSG Network's broadcasts of the New York Rangers games at the tournament and will carry the Stars-Rangers tilt on Sunday September 11. According to NHL Network's online schedule, the Stars-Rangers game will be broadcast live and then later on Sunday and again on Monday.

*While I am on the subject of prospects, I met a guy named Robert Keith out at development camp back in July and he took several photos of the players who were out in McKinney that week. Lots of good shots of guys like Jamie Oleksiak, Jack Campbell, Tyler Beskorowany and others. You can see them here and here.

*The Stars announced Friday that Stu Barnes will be taking part in the 2011 Alumni Classic. Barnes and Guy Carbonneau are two of ten former Stars who will be taking part. The rest of the players will be announced one at a time on weekdays through September 15. The next player will be announced Tuesday September 6. No announcement on Monday, which is Labor Day. Details on the Alumni Classic are here.

Thoughts on Glen Gulutzan

June, 18, 2011
Here are a few thoughts and observations on Glen Gulutzan, who was named head coach of the Dallas Stars on Friday.

*I don’t buy the theory that the Stars hired him because he was cheap. The NHL is a copycat league and teams have had some success recently going with talented, younger coaches coming out of the AHL. Gulutzan fits that mold and he fits the mold of the kind of coach that is being hired around the league this offseason. Plus, he was already in the Stars’ system. Kind of a no-brainer, if you ask me.

* I’ve watched quite a few Texas Stars games over the past two seasons – in person, on TV, via streaming video – and have always been impressed with how they played under Gulutzan. They played a pretty strong team game.

They didn’t give up much in the way of quality chances and the goaltending has been solid with guys like Brent Krahn, Matt Climie, Richard Bachman and Tyler Beskorowany over the past two years. Texas was top ten in goals against both seasons under Gulutzan.

The offensive struggled this past season, ranking 26th in the league when there was a pretty young group of forwards playing. In 2009-10 Texas ranked 12th in the AHL in scoring.

Overall, his teams down there were frustrating to play against and capitalized when the opposition cracked. It worked well and Texas had some success.

In Dallas, the personnel will be a little different. He’s going to have a little more offensive pop at his disposal.

“He’s been forced to be geared toward the defensive side of things in the American Hockey League just because we haven’t had the scorers for him,” Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk said on NHL Home Ice Friday. “That’s the thing he is going to find with our club – players like Jamie Benn, Loui Eriksson, Mike Ribeiro and Brenden Morrow. We have guys that can do things offensively. I would suspect that we will be a much better two-way team.”

*It looks like Gulutzan got a vote of confidence from Jamie Benn, who played under Gulutzan during Texas’ run to the Calder Cup Final in 2010. Here’s a quote from Nieuwendyk during Friday morning’s conference call.

"His strengths are exactly what I feel this team needs – the structure and the style of play. The bottom line is that he gets it. He understands players, how to mesh players and get the most out of their abilities,” said Nieuwendyk. “We've seen that talking to the players like Jamie Benn, who went down to play for him in the Calder Cup playoffs. [Benn was] highly impressed with the structure, style of play, and the bench demeanor of Glen. I think that is going to translate well with our players.”

*One of the things I like about the hiring is that Gulutzan should have a really good grasp of the players in the Stars’ system. Obviously, he’s coached Dallas’ top minor league affiliate, but he’s coached many of the team’s top prospects at the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Michigan the past two seasons.

"Having coached those guys at the AHL level, having watched some of their transformation and now getting them up here, if you're there with them at the grassroots, you know them as a player. It's almost like you’re raising a child I think,” Gulutzan said. “Now you see them coming up, maturing and becoming effective players here. If you know their path I think it’s easier to relate with them and help them. You understand their strengths and weaknesses I think that experience will be valuable going forward with Tomas [Vincour], [Jamie] Benn, [Philip] Larsen and those types of players."

*One thing I found interesting when I went to Cedar Park to watch Texas in the playoffs in April was how defenseman Philip Larsen was used on the power play. He didn’t spend a lot of time at the point. Instead he would spend a lot of time down low or around the net. He scored two power play goals in the games I watched and both came he was down low, one off a deflection in the slot and another off a shot from the bottom of the circle. I just thought it was interesting wrinkle, or at least I thought so.

*Here’s something I remember about Gulutzan from Dallas Stars training camp last September. After camp ended some of the Stars personnel flew commercial from Prince Edward Island back to Dallas instead of the team’s charter. Gulutzan was one of them and he and some others ended up on my flight from Toronto to Dallas/Fort Worth. What did he do to kill time while waiting to board the flight? He got out his laptop, pulled up some video and was breaking it donw with defenseman Brad Lukowich. Was still doing it while I was boarding the plane. Gulutzan and Lukowich were the last people to board the plane, if I remember correctly. There's a coach making good use of his time.

*Don’t know what’s going to happen with the coaching staff, which currently includes associate coach Willie Desjardins, assistants Stu Barnes and Charlie Huddy and goaltending coach Mike Valley. Nieuwendyk really didn’t clear up to the issue other than to say the process of deciding what to do will start now that Gulutzan is on board.

Quotable: Crawford on the defense

December, 22, 2010
Dallas Stars coach Marc Crawford was a guest on ESPN 103.3's The Coop & Nate show this afternoon. He was asked about the improved play of the team's seven defensemen this season.

Here's what Crawford had to say:
“It’s a couple of things. One, we added a real good associate coach in Willie Desjardins. Willie’s come in and added a lot of focus to our team in all the systems area, but particularly in how we play in the defensive zone. He’s really complemented our other coaches, Stu Barnes and Charlie Huddy. Charlie is primarily responsible for the defensemen and he is really like a big brother to those guys. He was a great defenseman in his own right when he played with all those great Edmonton Oilers teams.

“I think our defensive core as they stand right now; they are among the cheaper defenses in the National Hockey League. They really take offense when people underestimate them. They are led by Stephane Robidas. He’s been a great leader back there for those guys. They hate it when anybody questions their abilities and they are doing the right thing about it, they are going out and playing quality hockey. They are taking care of their own end first and lately they’ve done a terrific job of supplementing our attack by keeping plays alive. Last night we had five points from our defensemen, including a big goal from Karlis Skrastins who doesn’t score very often.”

Stars showing improvement in faceoffs

November, 3, 2010
The Dallas Stars put a lot of emphasis on faceoffs heading into last season, but they finished 26th in the league by winning 48.1 percent of their faceoffs. Draws got attention in training camp again this season, and early on it’s paying dividends. Heading into Wednesday night’s game against Pittsburgh the Stars are winning 51.1 percent of their faceoffs, which has them ranked 11th in the league.

“We’ve been better and we should be better,” said Stars coach Marc Crawford. “Two guys that have been hard on faceoffs and have helped us are [Steve] Ott and [Adam] Burish. They win through tenacity, going out and digging in. On the other side there is the experience of [Mike] Ribeiro and [Brad] Richards. We should be a pretty good group. Tommy Wandell will benefit from having all those guys compete with him.”

Crawford credits assistant coach Stu Barnes for taking a lot of the initiative on the faceoff front. Barnes credits the players.

“I think the guys have really dug in on them,” said Barnes. “We’ve talked a little bit about them in prep, but the guys themselves have really dug in and taken pride in it. Any time we have worked on it in practice they’ve battled hard.”

Center Mike Ribeiro’s faceoff percentage is up to 54.3 percent this season after being around the 45 to 46 percent level the past few seasons. Ribeiro said he’s been a chronically slow starter in the faceoff department and has made an effort to try to get off to strong start this season. He said the team’s centers have all stepped it up, especially when they work on draws in practice.

“This year’s there’s a little bit more challenge to it,” Ribeiro said of the practice sessions. “It’s not like you just go there and do it. There’s more competition to it, who is winning the faceoff and it’s two out of three. Guys are digging more into it and want to win that tournament we make. It’s just good for everyone.”

Ott’s competitive nature is advantage when it comes to faceoffs. He was the Stars’ best faceoff guy last season at 56.8 percent last season and was ranked 4th in the league at 63.1 percent heading into Tuesday night’s games.

“I hate losing in a lot of aspects and faceoffs just happen to be one of them,” said Ott, who added that his teammates get credit for some of those wins.

“A lot of times you tie a lot of faceoffs and the way you get a win is by your winger or defenseman out battling the other guy for the puck,” he said.

Burish doesn’t take a lot of faceoffs, but his contributions shouldn’t be overlooked. He gives the team a much needed element on a team loaded with left-handed centers.

“Adam Burish has been a good wrinkle for us because he’s a right-handed guy that can take faceoffs,” said Barnes. “He’s been great at both ends of the ice and he’s been really good on the penalty kill.”

Burish has won 20 of his 28 faceoffs, including 10 of 14 shorthanded.

Ott said faceoffs, which he calls a game within a game, are an important part of the game and that’s why he and his teammates continue to work on improving at them.

“On the penalty kill you can kill 30 seconds if you win the draw and it goes all the way down the ice. On the power play you can get some early momentum with a faceoff win,” Ott said. “All over the ice, the more time you have the puck the better off you are, especially your line if you continue to win draws.”

Stars name Desjardins associate coach

July, 13, 2010
The Dallas Stars have just sent out a release on Willie Desjardins being named associate coach. They have also signed assistant coach Stu Barnes to an extension. Here's the release:

Dallas Stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk announced today that the club has named Willie Desjardins associate coach and the club has re-signed Stu Barnes for next season.

“We are very excited to name Willie Desjardins to our coaching staff,” said Nieuwendyk. “He has run an exceptional program in Medicine Hat for almost a decade now. Willie’s winning pedigree and positive attitude brings a lot to our organization. He will help the Dallas Stars in our efforts take the next step in getting back to the playoffs. “We believe Stu is an important piece to our coaching staff and our pleased to continue our relationship with him.”

"Willie has run the model program in the WHL and has been responsible for the development of many NHL players,” added head coach Marc Crawford. “He has been very successful at the World Junior Championships. Desjardins will bring a fresh prospective, new ideas and help with continued improvement of the Dallas Stars."

Desjardins, 53, spent the past eight seasons as the head coach of the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL and has served as the General Manager of the club since 2005. He won the WHL Championship with Medicine Hat in 2003 and 2004. Desjardins coached the Tigers at the Memorial Cup Tournament in those two seasons and was runner-up at the 2007 Tournament.

The native of Climax, Saskatoon, served as an assistant coach at the 2009 World Junior Championships, helping Team Canada win gold. He was named the head coach of the national team in the 2010 World Junior Championships and earned the silver medal with Team Canada.

During his time with the Medicine Hat Tigers, the club has finished in the top three in goals scored in six of the past eight seasons. He has posted a collective 333-182-61 regular season record and a 65-43 record in the playoffs during his time with the Tigers. All of Desjardins’ teams have qualified for the playoffs when he has started the season with the club. He coached a number of current NHL players, including Cam Barker, Joffrey Lupul and Darren Helm.

Barnes, 39, has spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the Dallas Stars with his primary focus being the club’s forwards and power play. Barnes’ helped increase Dallas’ total goals scored and power play percentages from 2008-09 to last season.

The native of Spruce Grove, Alberta, skated in 1,136 career NHL games with the Winnipeg Jets, Florida Panthers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Buffalo Sabres and Dallas Stars. He collected 597 NHL points (261g, 336a) over 17 seasons. Barnes spent his last five seasons in the NHL with Dallas and retired from playing after the 2007-08 campaign.