The Dallas Stars hired Willie Desjardins yesterday out of the WHL, where he made Medicine Hat a regular in the Memorial Cup.
"Willie has run the model program in the WHL and has been responsible for the development of many NHL players," added head coach Marc Crawford. "He has been very successful at the World Junior Championships. Desjardins will bring a fresh prospective, new ideas and help with continued improvement of the Dallas Stars."
Desjardins, 53, spent the past eight seasons as the head coach of the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL and has served as the General Manager of the club since 2005. He won the WHL Championship with Medicine Hat in 2003 and 2004. Desjardins coached the Tigers at the Memorial Cup Tournament in those two seasons and was runner-up at the 2007 Tournament.
Desjardins is a pretty big name in junior hockey, as, in addition to his accomplishments in the WHL, he has been involved in the Canadian Junior National Team for a few years:
The native of Climax, Saskatoon, served as an assistant coach at the 2009 World Junior Championships, helping Team Canada win gold. He was named the head coach of the national team in the 2010 World Junior Championships and earned the silver medal with Team Canada.
The interesting part of this hire, to me, is the possible input that Desjardins could have in the Dallas scheme and in-game tactics. Crawford told Mike Heika:
"He's a great coach and a great thinker of the game, and I think he's also great with personalities," Crawford said. "I think you see that with what he did in Medicine Hat. You look at their teams, and they really have been among the two dominant organizations in the Western League, along with the Vancouver Giants, over the past eight years. That's because of what he has been able to get out of the players. He doesn't really have a lot of superstar players, but he has gotten the most out of them."
As Heika mentions, Crawford generally runs his own show, handling personnel during the game himself. But Desjardins' status and track record could cause Crawford to give his opinions a little more thought than he might have his previous assistants.
For more on Desjardins, check out what Brad Gardner had to say this week about the hire and the shape that the staff is taking at Defending Big D.