|(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)|
Dallas Stars assistant GM Scott White and the newest Texas Stars assistant coach Max Fortunus were on a press conference this morning to announce and discuss the addition to the staff.
From the sound of the conference, this was a decision long in the making. White specifically mentioned that they had kept in touch ever since Fortunus left Texas and this always seemed to be a possibility. "He and I go back quite a ways. He's got a solid history in Cedar Park and frankly it was quite an easy decision to consider Max is the assistant coach."
This marks the first time Texas has expanded its staff to two assistant coaches, having previously always had one assistant and more recently a video coach as well. White noted that they've been looking at adding a second coach for the past several years but wanted to make sure the fit was right for the team. The entire league has seen growth in coaching and support staffs whether that is assistant coaches and video coaches or goaltending and skills coaches.
As a defenseman, Fortunus is going to be able to coach the blueliners while Travis Morin will move to coach his natural position with the forwards. Neil Graham, as head coach, will have prerogatives over the entire team.
The whole group skews younger than the usual coaching staff. Fortunus got a text from Travis Morin thanking him for taking the mantle of being the oldest coach on staff. Fortunus, of course, is only 37. White added, "I think they relate well with with the 19 to 25 year olds with your whom you're predominantly dealing with so I think that can be a positive."
Fortunus really just seems like an obvious choice with 1,000 games to his AHL record, a few NHL stints and even some ECHL time to show he knows the grind. The overall tone of the press conference was that this seemed like an inevitability given Fortunus's desire to coach and the team's desire to grow the coaching staff if they could find "the right fit".
Fortunus, for his part, always thought he'd end up in coaching and specifically mentioned the difference the Glen Gulutzan and Paul Jerrard's coaching made in the Stars inaugural year as an inspiration.
"We had a team that was good but we didn't think we would probably make it to the finals like we did. Just the way that they kind of set up our team, really talking to the guys, kind of made us believe in ourselves, and that's what made me realize [I wanted to do this]."
Fortunus will be returning to a city that he and his family know well. Two of his kids were born here and his wife said she would "live there forever" when they were here the first time. While here, he is looking forward to continuing his involvement with the local hockey scene, having already talked to Angie Vaught, who runs the youth program at Chaparral Ice. "For sure my kids are going to be involved in youth sport and every time I would have to get on the ice with those kids, it's trying to build that community and build a sport and push the sport in a city like Austin."