GM Scott White introduced Willie Desjardins as the new head coach of the Texas Stars in a press conference this morning at the Cedar Park Center.
In a summer of change for the Texas Stars, nailing down the head coaching position was priority one for Joe Nieuwendyk and Scott White. Yesterday, the Stars announced Willie Desjardins as that new coach and held a press conference today to introduce him to the Austin media and fans.
For Dallas, Desjardins represents a known commodity and one they value very highly. "The familiarity with Willie was huge in the decision," said Scott White. "Joe Nieuwendyk and Les Jackson talked about that familiarity. More importantly, the structure that we want to play with and return to is also part of it."
Both Coach Desjardins and White mentioned structure and systems alignment in their opening remarks and were later asked about it by the assembled media. It was a sore point last season and was definitely a focus point in this hire. Desjardins addressed it head on, "I think there's lots of similarities in what we'll run, which is good for the organization with players moving back and forth."
Dallas head coach Glen Gulutzan, who was on-hand for the press conference, agreed.
"One thing that I've been asked about is the same systems. Whenever you have continuity in the organization, it makes it easier. Willie has the ability to adapt to fit the personnel. Our philosphies are the same, and it's going to be very similar."
Desjardins did not get many opportunities to come visit Austin during the past season but heard rave reviews from the Gulutzan and Jerrard families and couldn't wait to bring his family to Central Texas. That connection to Gulutzan is highly prized by Texas GM White.
"Ultimately, Willie wanted to be a head coach again. We're getting a bonus because he's worked with Gully."
Desjardins' experience as a head coach in the WHL for the Medicine Hat Tigers is a big positive for the Stars.
"When you work at the junior level, you work with younger players and everything's kind of ahead of them. You look at Matt Fraser. I tried to get him to Medicine Hat and didn't get him. We never expected him to progress the way he did. That's the exciting thing about working with young guys; you just don't know where they can get to. It's about how hard they want to work."
While development is a huge part of the Desjardins hire, the team knows that the fans are hungry for another run at the Cup. The team's new head coach has a history of winning championships in the WHL and wants to bring that tradition to Cedar Park.
"We want to play an exciting brand of hockey, and this is a good group to do it with. We want to get to the Calder Cup, for sure. Watching L.A. celebrate on TV, how great of a celebration was that? That's what we want to get to."