When the Texas Stars won the Calder Cup this past season under coach Willie Desjardins, they relied on an up-tempo offensive attack that put constant pressure on opposing defenses.
That approach won’t change under Derek Laxdal, who was named the Stars’ new head coach Thursday. He replaced Desjardins after the former Stars coach took over the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks on June 23.
“We want to be an up-tempo team, and this team has some guys who can fly,” Laxdal said by phone. “I’m a lot like Willie. We have to be defensively responsible, but I’m not going to come in here and trap it up (on defense), I can promise you that.”
It looks as though Laxdal is going to have the players he’ll need for his system. He’s already getting a feel for his roster, which started to take shape this week after NHL free agency opened Tuesday. The parent club of Texas, Dallas was one of the most active NHL teams in free agency, signing forwards Ales Hemsky and Patrick Eaves along with goalie Anders Lindback.
Dallas also made a blockbuster trade with the Ottawa Senators for center Jason Spezza, a move that didn’t cost Texas any players on its 2014 playoff roster.
Texas’ recent success in the American Hockey League helped make some of the moves possible, as Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill said he felt more confident about the club’s prospects after watching much of Texas’ Calder Cup championship run.
“It gave us a calming,” Nill said. “We knew if we didn’t do anything that we’ve got some good kids coming in.”
With Lindback’s signing, Jack Campbell is expected to be the starting goalie for Texas next season. Campbell split time with Cristopher Nilstorp in each of the past two seasons.
“Jack is a young goalie who is working his way up,” Nill said. “I want him to come to camp and make our decisions harder. I told Jack at the end of the season, ‘If you’re ready to come play 30-some games in the NHL, the (backup) spot can be yours.’ Otherwise I want him playing every night with Texas.”
While the 22-year-old Campbell will be the future in goal, the Stars also will be a younger group at defenseman and forward.