The Dallas Stars were placed in a tough position back on Dec. 11 when they fired head coach Jim Montgomery due to personal off-ice issues. The team installed assistant coach Rick Bowness in as interim coach, but general manager Jim Nill recently said that despite there being several big-name coaches available suddenly after a number of firings, he has no intention of making a second coaching change during the season.
However, The Athletic’s Sean Shapiro (subscription required) wonders whether Nill and the Stars might reconsider that stance with their bye week coming up now that former Vegas coach Gerard Gallant has become available, as well as others like Mike Babcock and Peter Laviolette. The scribe writes that while it might create more unrest in the locker room, the team might not be able to resist a coach like Gallant, while Bowness might be OK with returning to his assistant coach role regardless.
- Sticking with Dallas, Stars defenseman Stephen Johns fared well in his debut after missing 22 months due to post-concussion headaches. He played 18:29 against the Minnesota Wild with two shots on goal, two hits and a blocked shot, but he told NHL.com’s Mike Heika that he intends to treat the upcoming bye week and All-Star break as his own training camp to get back into form. “I’m going to treat this bye week like a training camp for me,” said Johns. “Obviously, I need to get in better shape, I was breathing pretty hard out there today. It’s not really a break for me, which I’m fine with. I’ve had a long break.”
Sarah McLellan of the Star Tribune writes that almost a year after coming over from Nashville via trade, Minnesota Wild forward Kevin Fiala has been trying to develop himself as a complete player. While he has great offensive potential, he has often found himself as a healthy scratch due to his in-game mistakes and has made it clear he wants to change the way he plays. “I want to be a package, the full package, for sure,” Fiala said. “[But] I want to be me. I want to be offense.”
The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus (subscription required) writes that Chicago Blackhawks forward Dominik Kubalik has forced his way into the Calder Trophy discussions after scoring nine goals in the last seven games. The 24-year-old, whose rights came to Chicago in a trade with Los Angeles a year ago for a 2019 fifth-round pick, arrived from the NLA this summer and currently leads all rookies with 20 goals. Of course Colorado’s Cale Makar is the obvious first choice for the Calder, but the scribe writes that Kubalik is getting comfortable in the NHL now and might continue to improve.