On May 21st, the Dallas Stars announced via their social media accounts and their website that Rick Bowness would be stepping down as the head coach after their first round loss to the Calgary Flames in seven games. Leading them to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final, Bowness ends his career in Dallas with an 89-62-25 regular season record and a .577 points percentage.
After the announcement, Stars’ social media went berserk. Many fans became ecstatic as there was a vocal amount of Stars’ fans who rejoiced at his announcement. Names such as Marc Savard, Jeff Halpern and Rick Tocchet were thrown out as possible replacements. What I really want to focus on in this article is not necessarily names of possible replacements, but what the Stars really need out of the 9th head coach in their franchise’s history.
There are three things that I want to see out of the next Stars’ head coach. First, the head coach needs to be able to get the most out of the veteran players. Second, he also needs to be able to develop the young guys at the same time. Last thing is the head coach having a balanced, but consistent system and philosophy.
Head Coach Criteria: 1. Get most out of veterans
It’s no secret than Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin have not performed to their offensive expectations over the past several seasons. They are paid a combined cap hit of $19.35 million, and the Stars need to be able to count on more offense from both of these guys but specifically Benn.
Benn’s points have dropped off since his 89 point Art Ross season in 2015-2016. With Benn’s cap hit on $9.5 million, I expect 65 to 75 points every season at least. He has not hit 70 points since the 2017-2018 season. The next head coach needs to be able to get more offense out of the guys that get paid an absorbent amount of money (Benn and Seguin) while continuing Joe Pavelski’s offensive successes.
Head Coach Criteria: 2. Develop the young guys
This team is at a very strange fork in the road where they have grizzled veterans, but also have young studs in Jason Robertson and Roope Hintz. I want to add in Jacob Peterson in there as well who I believe should contend for a top 6 role next year.
These guys were integral parts of the Stars’ attack and the next head coach should have the ability to continue to develop those three guys along with the other young guys on this team including Miro Heiskanen, Thomas Harley, and Jake Oettinger.
Also expecting to possibly contend for roster spots next season are the Stars’ top three prospects; Logan Stankoven who just won WHL Player of the Year, Wyatt Johnston who scored 124 points in 68 regular season games and 31 points in 18 playoff games, and Mavrik Bourque who scored over 2 points per game in the regular season and who scored 16 points in 11 playoff games.
Assuming one or all three of these guys make the opening night roster for the 2022-2023 season, it is essential the next head coach can push these young guys to the next level.
Head Coach Criteria: 3. Consistent and balanced
One of the first things I noticed on social media after the Bowness announcement was Stars’ fans requesting that an offensive minded head coach replace Bowness. It’s no secret the Stars have not scored enough goals over the Jim Montgomery-Rick Bowness era.
In goals scored the past four years, the Stars were 29th, 29th, 18th, and 21st respectively. The Stars haven’t been in the top 10 in goal scoring since the 2015-2016 season when they were the top scoring team in the league.
How did the Stars do in the 2016 playoffs? They lost in the second round to the Blues in 7 games and we’re not able to outscore their problems. How did the Panthers, this year’s top scoring team, do this year in the playoffs? Despite winning in 6 games, they did not play well against the Capitals in their first round series, and then they were swept by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Stars went to extremes with their last couple of head coaches; offensively with Lindy Ruff and defensively when they hired Bowness and Montgomery. I truly believe the Stars require a head coach who puts an equal emphasis on the offensive side and defensive side of the game, not just one or the other.
Hopefully, the Stars will look at their past and learn from them. This current team is good enough to do some damage in the postseason, but they need the right guide to lead them there. Let’s see what Jim Nill decides on.