Stu Barnes always played the game like a coach. Talent, yes. Intelligence and brains -- no question. He was a smart player and his intelligence and gained experience were a huge reason why he was able to be an effective player for all 16 years he played in the National Hockey League.
Thursday, Barnes officially announced his retirement as a player in the National Hockey League and signed a two-year deal to join the Dallas Stars staff as an assistant coach.
“I was truly fortunate to play as long as I did, and I knew this was the time for me to wrap up my playing days,” Barnes said. “A great opportunity to become an assistant coach was presented to me by the Stars, and I look forward to making that transition and learning a new part of the game.”
For the Stars’ hockey staff and coaches, the move is a welcome addition with the departure of popular Assistant Coach Ulf Dahlen, who returned to his native Sweden for a plumb head coaching opportunity.
“We congratulate Stu on an outstanding playing career and we are very excited that he will now join our coaching staff,” said Co-General Manager Les Jackson. “Stu was a consummate professional on and off the ice throughout his career, and was the type of player who always exhibited the qualities you would associate with a future coach. Stu will be an excellent addition to our staff, which we feel is among the best in the league.”
The modest Barnes never saw himself as a “player-coach,” but the effort he brought to every game and every practice spoke volumes to his teammates.
“I’m not sure if I ever had coaching qualities as a player. I just feel like you are who you are,” Barnes said. “I went out and played the best I could every night, and tried to learn all the time, in every situation. I was pretty fortunate to play as long as I did and learn from all the great people, and I look forward to passing some of that along in this new role.”
Barnes has been preparing for a move like this in recent years. He knew his playing days were probably coming to an end soon but he knew that he wanted to keep hockey in his life. Barnes’ family really loves living here in the Dallas area, so when the opportunity presented itself to become an assistant coach with the Stars, he recognized it would be a good fit.
“I’ve definitely thought for a while now that I wanted to stay in the game in some way once I retired,” he said. “I had some conversations that something like this might be a possibility once last season ended and I took some time this summer to mull it over. The Stars organization is a class act all the way and I have the utmost respect for Dave Tippett, Rick Wilson and Mark Lamb, so I’ll be really fortunate to learn the ropes from them.”
Barnes was a natural leader in the dressing room, especially for the younger players on the team. He was always a good sounding board and would spend time with them daily as they learned the rigors of playing an 82-game schedule in the NHL. The Stars expect that to continue in his new role, and Barnes looks forward to the experience.
“Anytime you are an older player, you try and go out of your way to help the younger guy,” he said. “I already have a relationship with the younger guys in the room and that’ll certainly help going forward. There will definitely be some challenges, but this is a great group of guys and a super bunch of players, so I will help out wherever I can to help our team win.”
Barnes, 37, collected 597 career NHL points (261 goals, 336 assists) in 1,136 NHL games with the Winnipeg Jets, Florida Panthers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Buffalo Sabres and Dallas Stars. He also skated in 116 career Stanley Cup Playoff games over 12 postseasons, notching 30 goals and 32 assists for 62 points and reaching the Cup Final twice (Buffalo, 1999; Florida, 1996).
The 5-11, 182-pound center was acquired via trade by Dallas on March 10, 2003, in exchange for Mike Ryan and a second-round draft pick, and in 329 total games with the Stars, recorded 120 points (53 goals and 67 assists). He added 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 38 Stanley Cup Playoff games with Dallas.
A native of Spruce Grove, Alta., Barnes was originally selected by Winnipeg in the first round (No. 4 overall) of the 1989 Entry Draft. He had a stellar career with the Tri-City Americans in the Western Hockey League, and currently co-owns that club with his junior teammate, goaltender Olaf Kolzig. Barnes was named the WHL’s Most Valuable Player in 1988-89, when he posted 144 points (52 goals, 92 assists) in 63 games. Wilson and Lamb Extended As Well
|Rick Wilson |
The Dallas Stars also announced today that Associate Coach Rick Wilson and Assistant Coach Mark Lamb have each been signed to two-year contract extensions. Both coaches’ contracts were set to expire after the 2008-09 season and will now reach through 2010-11.
“Rick (Wilson) has played a major role in building the Stars franchise into the perennial contender that it is today,” Jackson said. “We believe Mark Lamb is one of the top young assistants in the game and a major asset to our organization.”
Wilson, 58, is set to enter his sixth season as associate coach for the club, and his 16th season with the Stars organization, dating back to the club’s days as the Minnesota North Stars. As a member of the Stars coaching staff, he has been a part of seven division titles, two Western Conference crowns, two Presidents’ Trophies and the 1999 Stanley Cup championship.
|Mark Lamb |
Wilson’s main coaching focus lies with the team’s defensemen, as well as the penalty kill, which ranked second in the NHL last season (85.5%).
Lamb, 44, begins his sixth season as assistant coach for the Stars, with his primary focus on the club’s forwards and power play. Lamb helped guide Dallas to Pacific Division titles in 2002-03 and 2005-06.
Prior to joining the Stars, Lamb served as a development coach with Edmonton for two seasons, managing the development of players throughout the Oilers organization.