DALLAS -- Paul Jerrard's philosophy on life is pretty simple.
"I don't want to be seen as a good black coach, I just want to be seen as a good coach," said the Dallas Stars' new assistant.
Jerrard, 46, whose mother is from Jamaica and whose father is white, will probably be the only black bench coach in the NHL next season.
Phoenix goalie coach Grant Fuhr has one black parent and one white parent but will not man the bench. Dirk Graham, who has one mixed-race parent, is considered the first black head coach in NHL history. He coached the Chicago Blackhawks for 59 games in 1998-99.
And while Jerrard understands that he can play a role in helping the NHL push diversity, he does it through his actions, not his speech.
"It is rare to see a black hockey coach, and Paul understands that, but I don't think anyone who knows him sees him as a black hockey coach," said Glen Gulutzan, the Stars' new head coach, who worked with Jerrard for the last two seasons on the Texas Stars.
"Honestly, I think everyone just sees him as Paul."
Jerrard likes it that way. He grew up in Manitoba and was one of four children to two hard-working parents. His mom left Jamaica and put herself through nursing school. His dad was a laborer.
Jerrard loved hockey and earned a scholarship at the highly acclaimed Notre Dame Academy in Wilcox, Saskatchewan. He was drafted by the New York Rangers (173rd overall in 1983), then played at Lake Superior State.
Eventually he was traded to the Minnesota North Stars, for whom he played his only five NHL games as well as six seasons with the team's affiliate at Kalamazoo, Mich. That started his long-term relationship with the organization.
"We've known Paul forever, and he has always been the same guy -- hard-working, dedicated, smart," said Les Jackson, the Stars' director of scouting and player development. "He's worked really hard to get this opportunity, and we're lucky to have him."
Jerrard played for other minor league teams to end his career and got his start in pro coaching as video assistant for Bob Hartley in Colorado in 2001. The Stars named him assistant coach of the Iowa Stars in 2005, and he has spent the last five seasons leading the defensemen of the Stars' top affiliate in Iowa and then at Texas.
"He's an incredible detail guy," Gulutzan said. "He is so prepared and so dedicated. I've learned a lot from him."
And while Gulutzan has a reputation of being emotional, he said Jerrard isn't always the stoic one in the pair.
"He's got a real fire inside of him," Gulutzan said. "I think we both have our moments of calm and excitement, and I think we play off each other very well."
Jerrard said he's excited about the opportunity to coach at the NHL level and continue his relationship with Gulutzan.
"Obviously, staying with him is a great thing, and I think that will help the transition for both of us," Jerrard said. "We've been around the NHL players in camps, and you learn a lot there. I think it's just a process of doing your job and going through the experience and learning day by day. That's all you can do."
Jerrard is expected to have a lot of control next season. He will be in charge of the defensemen. He and associate coach Willie Desjardins are also expected to run the penalty kill.
"Paul is very comfortable with the defensemen and has done a great job of getting the most out of them," Gulutzan said.
And while putting two NHL rookie coaches on the same bench could have its drawbacks, Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk said he believes these two will be able to handle the challenges.
"You think about it for a short time, but I really didn't worry about it," said Nieuwendyk, who let go of veteran assistant coach Charlie Huddy to make room for Jerrard. "They're good people, they're sharp people, I've been able to watch them closely and work with them, and I trust them. Everyone has a learning curve, but I have complete confidence in Glen and Paul."
And that's something that's been earned.
When asked about any special challenges Jerrard may have faced as a black coach, Nieuwendyk said it's never been an issue.
"Honestly, I've never really thought much about it," he said. "Paul is Paul. That's how it's always been. He's always just been a part of our organization, a part of our family."
And that's exactly how Jerrard wants it.
IN THE KNOW
Position: Stars' new assistant coach, with emphasis on defense
Born: April 20, 1965, in Winnipeg, Manitoba
Notable: Played at Lake Superior State. ... Drafted 173rd overall by the Rangers in 1983. ... Traded to Minnesota in 1988. Played five games with the North Stars in 1988-89, scoring no points. ... Played six seasons with Minnesota's IHL affiliate in Kalamazoo, Mich. Totaled 94 goals and 170 assists in 656 minor league games. ... Former assistant coach at Lake Superior State and on AHL teams Lowell, Hershey, Iowa and Texas. ... Served 2002-03 season as video coach for Colorado.