Gulutzan, who was hired last summer after two seasons as head coach of the team’s AHL affiliate, put together a 42-35-5 (.543) record in his first season. The Stars finished 10th in the Western Conference and 18th overall in the league.
“I think it was pretty solid,” Nieuwendyk said of Gulutzan’s first season. “He learned a lot and he’s going to grow with the team that we’re going to put together here in the next few years. I’ve always viewed him as a guy who is going to be a long-term coach. You have to go through some bumps to move ahead, and I think he experienced some bumps this year. We’re all going to push forward together.”
Heading into Saturday’s regular season finale against St. Louis, Gulutzan was asked to assess his first season as the bench boss of the Stars.
“I certainly learned a lot. I certainly know it’s a very tough league,” Gulutzan said. “The coaching staff certainly feels that we could have done a better job, certainly in a few areas to get this team into the playoffs. We take that responsibility seriously. We all have to get better. That’s certainly what we’re going to do next season. It’s certainly disappointing, these last few games, you have a goal in mind whether it’s your first season or your tenth. Everybody is competitive. We’ve just got to be better to get the job done. That’s the bottom line. “
As for what he learned in his first season, Gulutzan had this to say.
“The league is a lot more simple than you think it is. You have to be very consistent and you have do things a certain way night in and night out to get in,” he said. “It’s not some magic potion to get you in. It’s not anything mysterious to the other 29 coaches or the teams in this league. It’s a very simple formula, maybe almost boring at times. You have to stick with it for 82 games or the league will smack you down and put you in your place. That’s what I’ve learned.”