Joe Nieuwendyk: Early stages of search

The search for the next coach of the Dallas Stars has been slow going so far, but it should start to gain a little steam soon.

"We're in the early stages," Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk said. "When I get back we'll start to formulate a plan moving forward here, but there hasn't been any urgency on our part. We've been kind of waiting to see what kind of direction things would go as far as ownership. I think now we're in a position where we can start to move forward."

The resolution of the ownership situation continues to move along. Vancouver businessman Tom Gaglardi is in an exclusive negotiating period during which he is trying to finalize a deal for the team. The process would still have to run through bankruptcy court, but there is a chance it could be wrapped up in early June. It could take longer if there are some snags along the way.

So far there have been no formal interviews, but Nieuwendyk has had some contact "in one way or another" with potential candidates. Among that group appear to be Montreal assistant coach Kirk Muller, Texas Stars coach Glen Gulutzan, Dallas Stars associate coach Willie Desjardins and former Dallas Stars coach Ken Hitchcock, who just wrapped up a stint as head coach of Team Canada at the World Championship in Slovakia.

Nieuwendyk expects to have more initial talks, put together a list and get down to the serious business of conducting interviews.

"In my head, there is no set number of interviews," Nieuwendyk said. "I would say three, four or five is probably the right range."

Nieuwendyk said there is no time frame for concluding the search. No matter how long the process takes, he is confident the Stars -- one of five teams looking for a new head coach -- will get a quality successor for Marc Crawford, who was fired at the end of the season.

"I think we feel comfortable that once we go through the process, we'll find the right guy," Nieuwendyk said.

Mark Stepneski covers the Stars for ESPNDallas.com.