Dallas Stars: Willie Desjardins

The Dallas Stars announced Wednesday that Willie Desjardins will coach the Texas Stars, the organization's primary affiliate in the American Hockey League. Desjardins, 55, was the Stars' associate head coach the last two seasons.

“We believe that Willie’s track record as a teacher of the game and his ability to develop young players is a perfect fit for the Texas Stars,” Joe Nieuwendyk said. “His knowledge of Glen Gulutzan’s system and his familiarity with our prospects will continue to improve player development between Dallas and the Texas Stars.”

Here is part of the club's release:

“I’m extremely excited for the opportunity to become head coach of the Texas Stars,” said Desjardins. “I feel one of my strengths has always been in coaching younger players and this is a fantastic opportunity to do just that. The Stars organization has a group of very talented prospects coming through the system and I look forward to helping them develop.”

Previous to his stint in Dallas, Desjardins was the head coach of the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League from 2002-2010, leading the club to the WHL Championship in 2004 and 2007. He coached Medicine Hat at the Memorial Cup Tournament in those two seasons, and was runner-up at the 2007 tournament. He was awarded the Dunc McCallum Memorial Trophy as WHL Coach of the Year for the 2005-06 season.

During his eight years in Medicine Hat, Desjardins compiled a regular season record of 333-182-61 and a playoff mark of 65-43. His teams qualified for the playoffs each season he coached the club, and finished in the top three in goals scored in six of those eight years.

The native of Climax, Saskatchewan, served as an assistant coach for gold medal-winning Team Canada at the 2009 World Junior Championships. He was the head coach for Canada at the 2010 World Junior Championships, earning the silver medal.

Desjardins was head coach of the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades during the 1997-98 season, after working as bench boss for the Seibu Bears in Japan from 1994-96. Previously, he served as head coach at the University of Calgary from 1989-1994, leading the Dinosaurs to two Canada West University Athletic Association (CWUAA) championships. He was an assistant coach at the university from 1985-89.

Postgame notes

November, 24, 2011
11/24/11
2:47
AM CT
Here are some notes following the Stars’ 3-2 overtime win over the Los Angeles Kings Wednesday night.

Those late rallies: The Stars improved to 4-0 in games have that have gone beyond regulation this season. In each of those games the Stars have scored late in regulation to tie the game and force the extra playing time. They did it with 27.3 seconds and 1:01 left against Phoenix, 4:50 remaining against Colorado and then 20.3 seconds left against the Kings Wednesday night. That’s two points four times when the Stars were pretty close to getting nothing. Those are big points that could make a big difference when everything gets added up at the end of the season.

Turning point: With the Kings up 2-1 at 6:32 of the third period, Los Angeles forward Kyle Clifford shoots wide on an open net, missing an opportunity to give the Kings a 3-1 lead and leaving the door open for the Stars to be in position to score a late game-tying goal.

Turning point II: Down 2-1 with 25 seconds remaining and looking at a neutral zone faceoff with the just seconds remaining on a power play, the Stars call a timeout, associate coach Willie Desjardins draws up a play and it works. With three players lined up to his right, Steve Ott chips the puck into the Los Angeles zone, Jamie Benn gets it and sets up Loui Eriksson, who scores with 20.3 seconds left.

“That’s what we wanted to do and it worked out perfectly,” said Benn. “Not sure who drew it up back there but it was a good one.”

Ribeiro sits, briefly: Stars center Mike Ribeiro was given a few shifts off in the second period by Stars coach Glen Gulutzan after taking a tripping penalty and then protesting the call to the officials. It paid off. Ribeiro played a strong third and made the play of the night, taking a big hit from Jack Johnson to help set up Steve Ott’s game-winner it overtime.

“I didn't talk to him, but he didn't get out there for a couple of shifts,” Gulutzan said. “`I don't think he was that happy with me, but you have to understand that Mike Ribeiro at 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds, didn't get to where he is without being highly competitive. And if it's Mike Ribeiro or it's Jamie Benn, and we're losing frustration, as we said we were going to clean this up, and we are. My job as a coach is to win hockey games, and if the players don't like it for the time being, then so be it.

“If it benefits the group, I'm going to do it, because you saw the bounce back. You don't get to where he has gotten without fighting adversity. He was mad and he came out and played a real hard third, and we got two points. I'm fine with it, because he's a big part of our hockey club, and he’s a highly competitive guy, and I know in the end he is going to be there for us. I’ve got no problem with it. The message is clear to the rest of the group.”

Shot differential: The Stars outshot the Kings 38-24 and have outshot the opposition 73-42 over the past two games. That’s a positive for a team that was outshot 14 of the first 19 games this season.

“I think we can still put more pucks on net,” said Gulutzan. “We worked real, real hard and when you’ve worked as hard as we have the last two games, you are going to outshoot your opponent.”

Statistical tidbit of the night (From Stars PR): Eleven different Dallas Stars have recorded a multi-point game so far this season. The Stars have not lost a game this season when any Star records over one point in a game. Jamie Benn earned a multi-point game with his goal and assist Wednesday night.

Stars stick with it, rally by Kings

November, 24, 2011
11/24/11
12:19
AM CT
DALLAS -- Just when it looked like the Dallas Stars were going to lose to the Los Angeles Kings for third straight time this season, Loui Eriksson scored with 20.3 seconds left in regulation to tie the game and then Steve Ott scored 2:56 into the overtime to give the Stars a 3-2 win at American Airlines Center.

Those two goals capped off a rally that saw the Stars overcome a 2-0 deficit in the third period.

“We stuck with it,” said Ott. “The game plan coming in was pretty well taken care of throughout the whole 60 minutes. The unfortunate part is that we were down 2-0, so we had to come back from a little bit of a hole. But we stuck with it the whole 60. I think we outchanced them a lot tonight and the final result was probably the proper result.”

The Stars were down 2-0 entering the third due in part to some superb goaltending by Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick, but they cut the lead to one when Eric Nystrom set up Jamie Benn, who scored on the rebound of his own shot 2:07 into the period.

The Stars got the equalizer following a timeout with 25 seconds left during which associate coach Willie Desjardins drew up a play. With three players lined up to his right on a neutral zone draw, Ott chipped the puck into the Los Angeles zone, Benn got the puck and set up Eriksson, who scored to tie the game at 2-2.

“You can draw it up 100 times and it never works, but tonight it worked,” said Ott. “That was the plan. We overloaded that side with three guys and I shot the puck over there, it [Michael Ryder], it hit Benny and it turns into a two-on-one and Loui has a tap-in. “

“Sometimes you get lucky. You draw up lots of plays and some work and some don’t,” said Desjardins. “We got a break on it, but our guys executed. If you don’t execute, you don’t get it. Benn made a real good pass and Loui buried it. The play is not a very big part, it’s just executing. Otter had to do what he did on the draw.”

In overtime, the Stars got the winner off an odd-man rush that came when Stars center Mike Ribeiro got nailed by Kings defenseman Jack Johnson at the Dallas blue line, but still managed to get the puck to defenseman Stephane Robidas, who set up Ott’s game-winning goal.

“He took a real good one for the team. They say you’ve got to take a hit to make a play and he did,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “Not only that, but he was great defensively that shift. He took a big hit, I don’t know if he knew that we scored. But he tells me already that he is fine. He’s a tough, tough customer.”

The victory was the second straight for the Stars (13-8-0) following a five-game losing streak.

“I thought we played very good against a very good team,” Gulutzan said. “We made two mistakes that led to two goals, but games are 60 minutes for a reason. That was our message between the second and the third periods. Our guys stuck with it for 60 minutes. It was a good victory for us.”

The Kings scored twice in a 36 second span early in the second period. Both goals came off Dallas turnovers. After a Steve Ott turnover, Dustin Brown set up Mike Richards, who slipped the puck through Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen at the 4:53 mark.

Then Radek Dvorak coughed up the puck and Kevin Westgarth scored from the right circle at the 5:29 mark to make it a 2-0 game. But it was a lead the Kings couldn’t hold.

“We gave them a point, with a good lead. Not to say that they didn’t make plays, but it’s something that we haven’t done here in a few years, is cough up leads in the third period,” said Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi. Certainly we might look back on it, later in the season, and say, `Should of, would of, could of,’ but the bottom line is, we had a two-game trip and we got three out of four points. It’s not the worst, but this certainly isn’t the way we wanted to do it.’’

Notes

*Stars captain Brenden Morrow missed Wednesday’s game with an upper body injury.

*Adam Pardy and Krys Barch were healthy scratches for the Stars.

*Wednesday night’s attendance was 11,779

Postgame quotes

November, 23, 2011
11/23/11
11:13
PM CT
Here are some postgame quotes following the Dallas Stars’ 3-2 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Kings at American Airlines Center.

Stars coach Glen Gulutzan on Mike Ribeiro taking a big hit from Jack Johnson to help set up the game-winning goal:

“He took a real good one for the team. They say you’ve got to take a hit to make a play and he did. Not only that, but he was great defensively that shift. He took a big hit, I don’t know if he knew that we scored. But he tells me already that he is fine. He’s a tough, tough customer.”

Stars associate coach Willie Desjardins, who drew up the play that led to the game-tying goal with 20.3 seconds left in the game:

“Sometimes you get lucky. You draw up lots of plays and some work and some don’t. We got a break on it, but our guys executed. If you don’t execute, you don’t get it. (Jamie) Benn made a real good pass and Loui (Eriksson) buried it. The play is not a very big part, it’s just executing. Otter (Steve Ott) had to do what he did on the draw.”

Stars forward Steve Ott on the win:

“We stuck with it. The game plan coming in was pretty well taken care of throughout the whole 60 minutes. The unfortunate part is that we were down 2-0, so we had to come back from a little bit of a hole. But we stuck with it the whole 60. I think we outchanced them a lot tonight and the final result was probably the proper result.”

Star defenseman Stephane Robidas on the win:

“We kept playing the same way. We didn’t start cheating the game. Frustration didn’t creep into our game. We had a lot of chances that didn’t go in. Our coach told us that’s why you play 60 minutes. It’s not 40, you don’t win the game in the first period. That’s exactly what happened tonight.”

Thoughts on Glen Gulutzan

June, 18, 2011
6/18/11
1:42
AM CT
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.
The latest in a series on possible candidates for the head coaching job of the Dallas Stars looks at Willie Desjardins.

Currently

Associate coach of the Dallas Stars.

The résumé

*Hired as associate coach of the Dallas Stars in July 2010.

*Coached eight seasons (2003-2010) with the Medicine Hat Tigers in the Western Hockey League, compiling a 333-182-61 regular season record and 65-43 mark in the playoffs. Was also general manager of Medicine Hat from 2005-10.

*Won WHL championship (2004, 2007).

*Was named Canadian Hockey League Coach of the Year in 2006.

*Was head coach for Team Canada at 2010 World Junior Championship, where his team took the silver medal.

*Won gold medal as an assistant coach for Team Canada at 2009 World Junior Championship.

*Assistant coach for Canada's National Men's Team in 1998-99.

*Played junior hockey with Moose Jaw (SJHL) and Lethbridge (WCHL).

Positives

Got high marks for his organization and attention to detail in first year as associate coach with the Dallas Stars. Was one of the top coaches in Canadian junior hockey, turning the Medicine Hat Tigers into one of the top teams in the Western Hockey League. Success in juniors shows he can make a connection with younger players.

Negatives

Limited experience at the professional level since he has just one year in the NHL under his belt.

Other suitors

He’s under contract with Dallas, so none.

Quotable

“Willie is a detail guy, Willie is a passionate guy and he is a hardworking guy who just loves hockey. I think in the beginning the players didn’t know much about him or know how to take him, but he has a real good rapport with the players. I think Willie is the type of hockey guy that comes in and makes people around him better and we’ve seen that here in Dallas.” – Dallas Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk on Desjardins’ performance as associate coach with Dallas (NHL Live, January 2011)

Slow going on Stars' search for coach

May, 18, 2011
5/18/11
12:54
PM CT
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.

Stars News & Notes: PK continues to shine

December, 28, 2010
12/28/10
12:30
AM CT
The penalty kill got off to a terrible start for the Dallas Stars this season, but over the last month it has been superb and has been a key factor in the team’s recent run and climb up the Western Conference standings.

A few statistical notes on the Stars’ penalty kill over the last month:

*The Stars are 55-62 (88.5%) on the penalty kill over the last 18 games.

*And it’s been very good both at home and on the road during that stretch, going 27-31 (87.1%) in 10 road games and 28-31 (90.3%) in eight home games.

*The Stars have allowed power play goals in back-to-back games only once over the last 18 games and have not allowed a PP goal in 11 of the 18 games.

The keys to the PK’s recent success vary, according to defenseman Stephane Robidas.

“There are a lot of different things,” Robidas said. “Guys are willing to sacrifice their bodies. You see a lot of forwards blocking a lot of shots. They block a lot of shots from the middle, which is huge. When those shots get through from the middle that’s when a lot of stuff can happen.”

The Stars wanted to be more aggressive on the penalty kill this season and Robidas said they have been more in sync as units with that pressure as the season has moved along. He also said the PK has been better in some of the of the detail work.

“Just guys winning a faceoff so we can clear the puck right away,” said Robidas. “Even though our clears at times aren’t always great, we’ve been better to make sure it goes all the way down the ice. They have to go back and try to get back in and that takes the rhythm out of the power play. The power play doesn’t like that when you have to go down twice, everybody has to change and everybody gets ticked off. That’s when you start getting in their head a little bit.”

And then there is the most important aspect of the penalty kill and that’s the guy in the net and Robidas said Kari Lehtonen and Andrew Raycroft have been big parts of the turnaround on the Stars PK.

“Our goaltenders have been amazing,” said Robidas. “Even if they get scoring chances, both Raycroft and Lehtonen have been amazing. Usually your best penalty killer is the goalie and that’s been the case.”

The penalty kill gave up 10 goals in the first five games and continued to struggle early in the season. Robidas said it was a doing a lot of good things but a break down here or there late in a kill often hurt the Stars.

Associate coach Willie Desjardins said the team stuck with the plan through the tough times and it has paid off in a turnaround.

“We have a lot of guys that buy in and it starts with your goaltender,” Desjardins said. “When we were struggling we had a meeting about it and I asked Lehts if he had anything to add and he said, ‘Yeah, I’ve got to be better.’ When you have a guy like that stepping up and not pointing the fingers and not saying anything about anybody else and saying I’ve got to be better, he was good. It’s not that there was a problem with him, he just shouldered it and he didn’t need to. That’s what makes it easy.”

Notes

*Defenseman Nicklas Grossman and center Tom Wandell, who both missed Sunday’s game due to illness, did not practice Monday. They are questionable for Tuesday.

*The Stars recalled center Aaron Gagnon from the Texas Stars Monday as a precaution because of some players feeling under the weather.

*Stars coach Marc Crawford said he expected to use both Kari Lehtonen and Andrew Raycroft in goal as the Stars play back-to-back games in Nashville Tuesday and at home against Detroit on Wednesday. He plans to announce which goalie will play which game on Tuesday.

Back-to-backs

This week’s back-to-back games with the Predators and Red Wings will be the Stars seventh set of games on consecutive nights this season. They are 8-4-0 in those games so far with a 5-1-0 record in the first game and a 3-3-0 mark in the second game.

Quotable: Crawford on the defense

December, 22, 2010
12/22/10
3:36
PM CT
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.”

Desjardins brings experience, success

July, 13, 2010
7/13/10
8:32
PM CT
Last year the Dallas Stars had considered Willie Desjardins as a possible addition to the coaching staff, but the timing wasn’t right since Desjardins was slated to be the head coach of Canada’s team at the 2010 World Junior Championship. This year, however, the timing was right for both sides, and on Tuesday Desjardins stepped down as the head coach of the Medicine Hat Tigers and joined the Stars as associate coach.

“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,” said GM Joe Nieuwendyk. “He will help the Dallas Stars in our efforts take the next step in getting back to the playoffs.”

Desjardins, 53, has long been considered one of the top coaches in junior hockey. He joins head coach Marc Crawford, assistants Charlie Huddy and Stu Barnes and goaltending coach Mike Valley. Gone from last year's staff is Andy Moog,

“I've always been impressed with Willie and the program in Medicine Hat,” said Crawford. “The program is second to none. It's been the top program in the Western Hockey League along with the Vancouver Giants for almost ten years. It's great timing for him to come join us. He's a senior guy that's been coaching for a long time and I think he's really going to complement our staff very well.”

Desjardins took over in Medicine Hat in 2002-03 and turned around a program that hadn’t made the playoffs in five seasons. In Desjardins’ eight years as head coach and general manager (since 2005), the Tigers won two WHL championships and made the playoffs each season.

The eight seasons in Medicine Hat, the success and the bonds built in the process left Desjardins with a difficult decision when an NHL opportunity knocked.

"It was a tough decision. My time in Medicine Hat was great. It wasn't just coaching here, but I got to be part of a community and part of a history of a team,” Desjardins said. “It was a great place to coach and that's what made it harder. If I hadn't enjoyed it here, it would have been an easier decision. I really had a great spot here.

"I wouldn't have left if I didn't think it wasn't an unbelievable opportunity. I just think it's such a great franchise. I really like the leadership and the direction and I am really excited about the opportunity. I wouldn't have gone just anywhere, but this was an exceptional place."

Desjardins said he didn’t have any strong history with anyone in the organization, but Desjardins made a strong impression in his interviews, especially with Nieuwendyk.

Giving Desjardins the associate coach title was part of the negotiating process. There were other teams after him and other offers. There’s more to it as well.

"I think it speaks well to our players and our people the magnitude of the decision by giving him that title,” Crawford said. “We're telling everybody, as well, that this is a real important guy. Everybody is important, but that fact that he's been a head coach for so long and the fact that he's coached at a high level internationally is really good. That's something we need."

Besides the long stint at Medicine Hat, Desjardins was the head coach Canada at the 2010 World Junior Championship and served as an assistant to head coach Pat Quinn for Canada's 2009 World Junior team.

"Being a hockey coach for so long, being a great recruiter, being great with personalities and understanding the decisions that have to be made as a head coach, I think from that standpoint he'll be invaluable," said Crawford. "I talked with Pat Quinn and he thought that his input as an assistant was just terrific. Mike Johnson (former Crawford assistant), who knows him tremendously well, told both Willie and myself that he thought the relationship would be just great, and he believes our chemistry will be terrific.

"I think it's those two qualities - the fact that he's been a head coach, he understands the decisions that have to be made and he understands he has to give input. What I am looking forward to is the valuable input he will be bringing to us."

Desjardins doesn’t expect much of a change making the jump from junior hockey to the NHL.

“I've worked with a lot of young guys who have gone on to become pro players and they'll change a bit, but I think there still is a common thread with the players. They love to win,” he said. “All those guys have gotten to where they are because they love to win. That's important to them. So, that's something that keeps us all together and keeps us all focused. It'll be different, but there will be some common things that always run through hockey.”

As far as roles and responsibilities for the staff, Crawford said the coaches will get together at the end of the month to start hammering out details.

"We're going to talk through all the issues and all the responsibilities,” Crawford said. “That will all be decided as we keep moving forward. He's obviously going to get a prominent decision as the associate coach dictates.”

Stars Notes

  • The Stars also announced Tuesday that they have signed assistant Stu Barnes to a contract extension for next season.

  • The Stars have signed forward Scott Glennie, the team’s first round (8th overall) pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft to a three-year entry-level contract. Glennie is expected to play next season in juniors, so his contract would likely kick in for the 2011-12 season.
  • Quotable: Willie Desjardins

    July, 13, 2010
    7/13/10
    2:26
    PM CT
    Just got off a conference call with Stars new associate coach Willie Desjardins. Here's a quote from him on the decision to leave the Medicine Hat Tigers and join the Dallas Stars.

    "It was a tough decision. My time in Medicine Hat was great. It wasn't just coaching here, but I got to be part of a community and part of a history of a team. It was a great place to coach and that's what made it harder. If I hadn't enjoyed it here, it would have been an easier decision. I really had a great spot here.

    "I wouldn't have left if I didn't think it wasn't an unbelievable opportunity. I just think it's such a great franchise. I really like the leadership and the direction and I am really excited about the opportunity. I wouldn't have gone just anywhere, but this was an exceptional place."


    More later.


    Quotable: Crawford on Desjardins

    July, 13, 2010
    7/13/10
    1:40
    PM CT
    I just talked to Stars head coach Marc Crawford, who is in Rome, about the hiring of Willie Desjardins as associate coach. Here's part of what he had to say.

    "There are two things that stand out to me. One, is the honesty that he holds as a person and the total hockey guy that he is. Being a hockey coach for so long, being a great recruiter, being great with personalities and understanding the decisions that have to be made as a head coach. I think from that standpoint he'll be invaluable. I talked with Pat Quinn who worked with him at the World Junior program and he thought that his input as an assistant was just terrific. Mike Johnson (former Crawford assistant), who knows him tremendously well, told both Willie and myself that he thought the relationship would be just great, and he believes our chemistry will be terrific. I think it's those two qualities - the fact that he's been a head coach, he understands the decisions that have to be made and he understands he has to give input. That's what I am looking forward to is the valuable input he will bringing us."


    More from Crawford and Desjardins later today.

    Stars name Desjardins associate coach

    July, 13, 2010
    7/13/10
    1:09
    PM CT
    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.


    Stars close to hiring associate coach

    July, 12, 2010
    7/12/10
    4:15
    PM CT
    The word out of Canadian junior hockey circles is that the Stars are close to hiring Willie Desjardins, head coach of the WHL's Medicine Hat Tigers, as an associate coach.

    The Stars have been looking to add another coach since the team and Andy Moog parted ways after the season, and Desjardins has been one of the people under consideration.

    The Stars are not commenting on Desjardins right now, but the Medicine Hat Tigers have scheduled a press conference for Tuesday afternoon. That's added to the speculation that Desjardins could be stepping down to take a job at the professional level.

    If hired, Desjardins would join head coach Marc Crawford, assistant coaches Charlie Huddy and Stu Barnes and goaltending coach Mike Valley.

    Desjardins, 53, has been the head coach and general manager of the Medicine Hat since 2002-03. He's the led the Tigers to two Western Hockey League championships and eight straight playoff appearances.

    Two Stars prospects at the recent development camp in Frisco – forward Tristan King and defenseman Jace Coyle – played for Desjardins at Medicine Hat.

    Desjardins also was the head coach for Canada at the 2010 World Junior Championship, where the Canadians fell to Stars prospect Jack Campbell and Team USA in the gold medal game. Desjardins won a gold medal as an assistant coach at the 2009 World Junior championship. He's had other coaching duties with Canada's national teams and has coached in Japan as well.

    He would not be the first successful junior to coach to make the jump to an NHL assistant role this offseason. Bob Boughner, who led the Windsor Spitfires to two straight Memorial Cups, joined the Columbus Blue Jackets as an assistant coach last week.

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