Dallas Stars Appoint Neil Graham as Texas Stars Head CoachDec 10, 2019
FRISCO, Texas –– Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has appointed Derek Laxdal as an assistant coach for the Dallas Stars. Additionally, Neil Graham will assume the position of head coach for the Texas Stars with Travis Morin serving as the team’s assistant coach.
Laxdal, 53, has served as Texas’ head coach since July 3, 2014. In his sixth season as head coach, he has led the Stars to a 198-152-55 record, including a trip to the 2018 Calder Cup Finals. During his five full season, the Stars have qualified for the Calder Cup Playoffs three times. He has been instrumental in the development of current Dallas Stars players Esa Lindell, Roope Hintz, Jason Dickinson, Justin Dowling and Denis Gurianov.
Laxdal joined the Texas Stars after concluding a four-year stretch (2010-2014) as head coach of the Western Hockey League’s Edmonton Oil Kings, highlighted by winning the 2014 Memorial Cup as Canadian Hockey League champions. During his final campaign in Edmonton, Laxdal guided his team to a 50-19-3 record and the Ed Chynoweth Cup as playoff champions of the WHL – the second of his career after claiming the honor in 2012. In his four seasons coaching the Oil Kings, Laxdal led the club to three 50-win seasons and finished with an overall record of 182-82-23.
He is currently in his second stint with the NHL’s Dallas Stars organization as he previously spent five seasons (2005-2010) as the head coach of Dallas’ ECHL affiliate, the Idaho Steelheads, and won the 2007 Kelly Cup. Laxdal guided the Steelheads to a 219-108-35 record during his tenure as head coach, winning 40 or more games and qualifying for the postseason in each of his five years behind the bench. The Steelheads made a return trip to the Kelly Cup Final in 2010, falling to the Cincinnati Cyclones in five games.
His coaching career began in 2002 as a midseason replacement for the Central Hockey League’s Wichita Thunder. In the following two seasons, Laxdal guided the Thunder to a semifinal appearance each year and a combined regular season record of 75-41-8 before shifting his career to Idaho.
Laxdal selected by Toronto in the eighth round (151st overall) of the 1984 NHL Draft. He spent parts of six NHL seasons with the Leafs and the New York Islanders, tallying 19 points (12 goals, seven assists) in 67 career games. His professional playing career spanned 15 years, and Laxdal appeared in 356 contests at the AHL level – compiling 230 points (108 goals, 122 assists). He won the 1990 Calder Cup as a member of the AHL’s Springfield Indians, and also claimed the 1997 B&H Cup with the Nottingham Panthers of the British Ice Hockey Superleague (BISL).
Graham, 34, is in his first season as an assistant coach with the Texas Stars and will be the fifth head coach in the team’s history. He spent the previous four seasons as the head coach of Idaho. Over that span, he amassed a 166-91-31 record in 288 regular-season contests and led Idaho to three consecutive 40-win seasons. Graham guided the Steelheads to the Kelly Cup Playoffs in all four of his campaigns as head coach, recording a 14-20 record in 34 postseason games. He helped continue the club’s streak of qualifying for the postseason in each of last 22 seasons, which is the longest active postseason streak in professional hockey. Prior to being appointed head coach on Aug. 7, 2015, he was named as Idaho’s full-time assistant coach during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons after serving as a player/coach for the 2012-13 campaign.
The Calgary, Alberta native is a graduate of Mercyhurst University where he played hockey for four seasons before turning pro, recording 60 points (23-37=60) and 128 penalty minutes over 137 games. He split three seasons between the ECHL and Southern Professional Hockey League, scoring 98 points (42-56=98) in 113 professional games.
The Stars return home to face the Manitoba Moose on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019 at 7 p.m. The game opens a stretch of three games in four nights for Texas at H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, facing the Moose and Tucson Roadrunners in those games.
Photo Credit: Mollie Kendall