As the season draws all the more closer, Jim Montgomery and the Dallas Stars are making their final preparations for the year ahead. They made another move on Tuesday, adding Vernon Fiddler to the coaching staff.
The Dallas Stars rely a good bit on their former players.
Like with every NHL team, when a fan favorite from “back in the day” returns to the organization following retirement to work in some other capacity, it brings an elating feeling to the fan base as a whole. But for the Stars, it means just a little bit more than it may with other teams.
That’s because these former Dallas Stars are part of what helps keep the hockey spirit alive and growing throughout the state of Texas. Whether it’s Brenden Morrow appearing at an unveiling or skating with younger hockey players, Marty Turco becoming president of the Dallas Stars Foundation, or Mike Modano doing just about anything, it’s special to see them return to part of their story and make an impact.
The same can be said about Vernon Fiddler.
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After spending five seasons with the Dallas Stars ranging from 2011-12 through 2015-16, Fiddler spent one final season of his 14-year career split between the New Jersey Devils and Nashville Predators.
And shortly after making a run to the Stanley Cup Final with Nashville in 2017, he announced his retirement from the NHL. He did so with a mountain of support, including plenty from the Stars organization, which still very much thought of him as “part of the family.”
It’s not very often that an undrafted hockey player generates a 14-year career in the NHL. And yet, that’s exactly what Fiddler did. He served primarily as a fourth line grinder, was considered a dump-and-chase specialist, and could get his team a big goal when needed while putting up around 10 goals and 25 points per year.
It may not seem like an incredibly important role to fill, but all good teams have a player like Fiddler to round out the roster. Dallas was lucky enough to have him for a good chunk of his career.
And now, they’ll have him in the organization for at least the immediate future.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Dallas Stars announced the hiring of Vernon Fiddler as one of the assistant coaches for the 2018-19 season. Fiddler will join the new coaching trio of Jim Montgomery, Todd Nelson, Rick Bowness, and Sean Andrake along with returning coaches Stu Barnes and Kelly Forbes.
Fiddler has only been out of the league for one year, but was spotted around Dallas at various events and even helped out in the organization with making videos, such as one laying out a tour of Dallas for visitors along with Marty Turco as the city prepared to host the 2018 NHL Draft.
Now, he’s back on the ice and helping the Stars usher in yet another new era.
As reported by Sean Shapiro at The Athletic, Fiddler won’t be one of the assistant coaches making decisions behind the bench during games. On top of that, he also won’t do much traveling with the team.
Vernon Fiddler is joining the Stars coaching staff this season in a skills/development role. In addition to working with NHL team will also spend time in Cedar Park with Texas Stars.
— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) August 21, 2018
Instead, his role will be focused more on enhancing and molding the skills of certain players, specifically during practice. Fiddler was one of the better centers in the Stars’ lineup, winning 51.4 percent of his face-offs over five seasons and being trusted to take defensive zone draws more often than not.
In other words, he’s certain knowledge and skills that he can pass on to the younger Dallas Stars players. These skills can help build up their own talents and make the team stronger as a result. He’ll also have an opportunity to work with depth forwards and aid them in understanding their role and how they can perform at the best rate.
Fiddler isn’t going to be one of the main coaches for the Dallas Stars this year, but his presence will be greatly beneficial in further preparing the team for action in the 2018-19 season. Fiddler’s skills should translate well to the new generation of Stars in the years to come.
And plus, as many Stars fans can attest to, it’s great to have Fidds back in the organization.