The Dallas Stars haven’t properly drafted and developed a goalie since they selected Marty Turco with a fifth-round pick (124th overall) in 1994.
In the post-Turco era the Stars have relied on trades and free agency to fill NHL jobs.
And with the exception of Mike Smith, who was traded away to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2008, the Stars have never developed an AHL goalie that turned into an NHL starter (Turco was a product of the Michigan K-Wings in the old IHL).
Jack Campbell was supposed to be the solution to that problem when Dallas drafted him with the 11th overall in pick in 2010. But Campbell never panned out in the Stars system, was relegated to the ECHL twice, and was eventually traded to the Los Angeles Kings for minor-league defenseman Nick Ebert.
Since that trade Campbell has thrived playing for the Ontario Reign in the AHL. He’s playing in a much better defensive system, which certainly helps his numbers, but Campbell also gives much of the credit to his de facto full-time goalie coach in Ontario, Dusty Imoo.
In fact, when Campbell represented the Pacific Division in the AHL All-Star Classic he switched to No. 70 to honor Imoo.
(Campbell typically wears No. 1)
With Campbell’s turnaround season and the public praise for his goalie coach, it’s led to a simple question back in Texas — why don’t the Stars have a full-time AHL goalie coach?
When asked, Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill said the Stars do have a goalie coach for the AHL team.
Mike Valley is the Stars director of goaltending development and splits his time between coaching in the AHL, ECHL, major junior, and in Europe. Valley is also responsible for scouting goalies. It’s a somewhat all-encompassing role that Valley moved into after Jeff Reese replaced him as the NHL goalie coach in 2015.
Valley does spend time in Cedar Park from time-to-time, but there hasn’t been a goalie coach with a daily presence in Cedar Park since the first half of the 2012-13 season, and that was during the NHL lockout.
Imoo has a similar title in Los Angeles — goalie development coach — but he spends more time working one-on-one with AHL goalies.
Campbell summed up the situation perfectly.
“I had two great coaches in Dallas, Mike Valley and Jeff Reese,” Campbell told Frozen Royalty in a November story. “I really enjoyed working with those two guys. It’s just unfortunate that I didn’t get the consistency with them. I didn’t see them enough.”
It should be noted that having a full-time goalie coach in the AHL is not the norm. Of the 30 teams in the AHL, an estimated 12 to 15 have a full-time goalie coach while the rest typically employ a part-timer or get occasional visits from the NHL goalie coach.