Willie Desjardins Named Next Coach of Texas Stars

The Dallas Stars announced this morning that they have hired Willie Desjardins as head coach of the Texas Stars. The hiring was widely expected as news broke last week that the Stars were in talks with Desjardins about the job. A press conference with the new coach is expected on Thursday morning in Cedar Park.

Desjardins is battle proven as a head coach, earning his stripes in the WHL with Medicine Hat. In his eight season with the Tigers, he won two WHL championships and a Memorial Cup runner-up. He posted a 333-182-61 regular season record and a 65-43 playoff record during that time. Additionally, he has never failed to make the playoffs of a team he started off the season coaching. During his time in Medicine Hat, he coached current Dallas prospects Jace Coyle and Tristan King.

After the 2008-09 season, Desjardins left the WHL and joined Dallas's coaching staff as an associate coach. Famous for his late-game whiteboard sessions on the bench, Desjardins was primarily responsible for in-game strategy in Dallas. He brings a knowledge of Coach Gulutzan's systems along with some of his own style to the new role in Cedar Park.

From the standpoint of the Dallas Stars organization, the hire is a very good one. Desjardins brings a winning pedigree to the Texas Stars. He has a knowledge of Dallas's systems and a working relationship with their coach and all of the staff in Dallas. If the Stars are looking for a tighter relationship with their farm club, then this is a spectacular hire all around. It's pretty clear that Desjardins is on a path to an NHL head coaching job and experience as an AHL head coach is a clear stepping stone to that ultimate goal. He was highly coveted in the summer of 2009 when Dallas picked him up. His role in Dallas was much more than just an associate coach, with some calling him more of an "Associate Head Coach". With this hiring and the talent that currently is beginning to pool in Austin, the Texas Stars could make some noise in the AHL next season.

There is currently no word on an assistant coach for Desjardins.

As a side note, this hiring comes a full month before the hiring of Jeff Pyle last summer (July 13, 2011). This leaves four currently unfilled AHL jobs: Chicago, Milwaukee, Peoria, and Adirondack. (UPDATE: Peoria filled this morning by Dave Allison, former Iowa Stars coach.) Several NHL clubs are high on other AHL coaches, such as Jon Cooper (NOR), Dallas Eakins (TOR), and Todd Nelson (OKC). While Texas's head coach position may be settled, the AHL coaching carousel is far from over.