The Marc Crawford era as the Dallas Stars coach came to an end today after he was fired following another season without making the playoffs. Crawford had just finished his second season as the Stars coach and was 79-60-25 in his time here.
Crawford took over the team two years ago when Dave Tippett was fired before the 2009-2010 season. He took over a team that had missed the playoffs for the first time since the 1995-1996 season and though he was able to improve the team, it wasn’t up to par with GM Joe Nieuwendyk’s standards.
For a team that was picked by many prognosticators to miss the playoffs by a lot this year, this move comes as a bit of a shock. The Stars overacheived, a whole bunch in my opinion, playing this season without an owner and with a restrictive payroll. The team was unable to add significant pieces in the offseason and found themselves making moves during the season that shed salary for the future, although the Goligosky trade helped to improve the team.
Prior to this year, Dallas had two straight finishes as the 12th seed in the Western Conference. They actually found themselves within inches of a playoff berth this season and were actually a competetive team throughout. Even if they had made the playoffs, I highly doubt that they could have gotten past the Vancouver Canucks. But that’s the thing with this team. They absolutely had to make the playoffs, not just for the fans or for themselves, but for the added revenue that a few playoff games would bring. This is a team that count on help from the NHL league offices to help with their payroll because they are ownerless. Every added dollar would have been a boon for the team.
Now the Stars find themselves heading into the offseason looking for an owner, a head coach and most likely without their most marketable name in Brad Richards. Richards has publically said that he would not return to the team if they did not have an owner by the time the offseason rolled around so start writing those good-bye letters to Mr. Richards. For a team that, while finishing on a downer, had something to look forward to for the future, things have now become much murkier.
Possible head choach candidates have been thrown out, from the minor league affiliate Texas Stars coach Glen Gulutzan to old Stars coach Ken Hitchcock. For now, it’s a bit of a crapshoot out there.