Thursday, July 3, 2014

Derek Laxdal Named Head Coach of Texas Stars

Stars organization snags premier head coaching hire from WHL
Derek Laxdal (Credit: Getty Images/Bruce Bennett)
The Dallas Stars announced this morning that Derek Laxdal will be the fourth head coach of the Texas Stars. He succeeds Coach Willie Desjardins, who is now the head coach of the NHL's Vancouver Canucks. Laxdal was a highly sought-after coaching hire by many clubs, and it speaks volumes about what the Dallas Stars organization is building that he selected Texas.

Laxdal, a Manitoba native, has a long history of success at multiple levels. His resume includes stints with the CHL's Wichita Thunder, ECHL's Idaho Steelheads, and most recently, WHL's Edmonton Oil Kings. He won the Kelly Cup with the Steelheads in 2007 and the Ed Chynoweth Cup twice with the Oil Kings. This year, Edmonton went on to win the Memorial Cup as well. All of this made him a hot commodity on the coaching circuit.

"Derek has a proven track record of developing young players to get the most out of them in a winning environment," said Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill. "His proven leadership, familiarity with our organization and tremendous character make him a great fit with our culture. We are very excited to welcome him to the Texas Stars."

Former Texas Star Francis Wathier
lifts the Kelly Cup with Laxdal's
2007 Idaho Steelheads
(Credit: Idaho Steelheads)
Between the CHL, ECHL and WHL, Laxdal's teams have qualified for the playoffs in 11 of 12 seasons, posted better than a .600 record nine times and gone to the league finals five times. After his success this season, he was rumored to be connected to the Edmonton Oilers as an assistant coach and the Norfolk Admirals as head coach.

Laxdal ended up waiting for the head coaching job that he had been a finalist for five years earlier. When the Texas Stars moved to Cedar Park, Laxdal was a finalist to move to the AHL with the new club after being the Steelheads head coach for four successful seasons. The Stars selected Glen Gulutzan instead and Laxdal later left the organization to lead the Edmonton Oil Kings.

The familiarity that Laxdal has with the organization definitely helps his case as he gets started. To boot, he is also familiar with the state. In his playing days, he ended his career with the Odessa Jackalopes of the WPHL and later coached the CHL's Jackalopes and the Wichita Thunder. He made many trips to Austin as a player and a coach to go up against the Ice Bats in the late 90s and early 2000s.

Before that, Laxdal was an NHL and AHL player. He was drafted by Toronto and ultimately played in 67 NHL games, compiling twelve goals and seven assists. He also played in Finland's SM-liiga and the British Hockey League and British Ice Hockey Superleague.

All in all, this is the quality of hire that the Texas Stars have come to expect. The good feelings that Jim Nill has generated in Dallas, which pulled players like Jason Spezza, Alex Hemsky and Vernon Fiddler to the Metroplex, extends to central Texas as well. The organization has proven that it will put money where its mouth is on prospect development and truly values the contributions of the AHL club. In addition, two of the past three coaches are now in the NHL. That is what most have their eye on, and Texas now appears to have made itself a premier destination to do so. That bodes very, very well for the team long-term.

One question unanswered here is the status of Doug Lidster. Most reports have him joining Desjardins' staff in Vancouver, but nothing is official yet. Assistant coaches are a lot harder to read the tea leaves on. Jim Nill and Derek Laxdal are expected to meet to discuss options soon.

Laxdal will surely be in attendance at next week's development camp in Frisco. He will also likely coach the Stars at the Traverse City Prospects Tournament in September. It remains to be seen whether he will still coach the Canadian National team at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in Europe in August.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a great hire. I was rooting for Doug so hopefully he winds up in Vancouver with Willie. Maybe Toby P. as assistant coach in Cedar Park???

    ReplyDelete

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