The NHL lockout will end at some point this season.
The prediction here is that the NHL will play a compressed season like the NBA did a year ago or perhaps a shortened season similar to the one it played in the 1994-95 season.
But it will not be a hockey-less season as it was in 2004-05, despite all the rhetoric emerging from Gary Bettman's mouth.
A compressed season means that every game will count even more than usual. Owners will be just as demanding as ever and coaches will have less time to turn things around after a poor start. As a result, owners may pull off desperation firing moves after a poor start. That coach might have gotten more time in a full-length season, but excuses and a slow turnaround won't help this year.
That could mean quite a bit of trouble for Dallas Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan. This is not saying Gulutzan, 41, is a bad coach, but he might not be the right fit for the 2012-13 Stars.
Gulutzan was hired by Dallas after the 2010-11 season. They played reasonably well last season, compiling a 42-35-5 record, but fell six points behind the eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings for the final playoff spot.
The Stars had a sharp 11-3-0 start before leveling out for the rest of the season.
Gulutzan was praised by Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk before he was hired for the position last year.
“I am looking for a guy that can relate to players and grow with a young group of players,” Nieuwendyk told the Dallas Morning News. “I want a longer-term guy. I don’t want the recycling. I want a long-term guy that can build with our young group of players.”
That makes it sound like Nieuwendyk is not about to change coaches quickly. But the young Stars are not quite as young as they were when Gulutzan was hired.
The Stars signed Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney in the offseason. Both players are 40 year old; that's one year younger than the head coach.
Gulutzan was a longtime minor league coach before he made the jump to the Stars. He may find it quite difficult to get his message across to Jagr, who has shown he likes to march to his own drummer.
Whitney has also been at it a long time and will find it difficult to adjust to a young coach.
Now, all this goes out the window if the Stars can get off to a sharp start. If this team is in playoff contention from the start and Gulutzan shows he can handle older players, then he will not only survive, but he will thrive.
But the pressure will increase in the shortened season and Gulutzan must get the Stars flying out of the gate quickly. Otherwise, he could face some trouble.
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