On Sunday, the Dallas Stars introduced Joe Nieuwendyk as general manager, moving previous co-GMs Brett Hull to executive vice president and Les Jackson back to director of scouting. Here’s a Monday story from the Dallas Morning News:
By Mike Heika
After pushing the hockey management envelope two years ago with the first co-general manager setup, Dallas Stars owner Tom Hicks went with a more conservative approach Sunday, naming Joe Nieuwendyk as the new general manager.
The playoff MVP of the Stars’ 1999 Stanley Cup championship, Nieuwendyk, 42, has 20 years of NHL playing experience – seven with the Stars – and was in the front office of the Florida Panthers and Toronto Maple Leafs for the past two years.
"He’s intelligent, he’s experienced, he’s meticulous, he’s somebody who people have compared to Bob Gainey," Hicks said. "He’s had the opportunity to see how the job is done with two different teams, and he has been a player on three different teams that have won Stanley Cups, so I believe he’s more than prepared for this opportunity."
The Stars gave Nieuwendyk a five-year contract.
Even the men who are being replaced had nothing but good things to say about Nieuwendyk. Les Jackson will return to his position as director of scouting and player development for the Stars, and Hull will be promoted to the position of executive vice president and alternate governor.
"I think Joe is going to be fantastic in this job," Hull said. "Even back when he was playing, everyone said he was going to be a great GM."
While Jackson added: "I’m thrilled for Joe, and I think he will do well. His personality fits this job."
Nieuwendyk will be introduced at a news conference today at American Airlines Center, then will travel to the NHL’s GM meetings in Pittsburgh on Tuesday. He has a lot on his plate right off the bat, including assessing the Stars’ roster and its free-agent situation with Sergei Zubov and Jere Lehtinen key priorities. He said he did not anticipate any major changes, including to the coaching staff.
"I need to get in there and do my homework before I do anything else," he said. "I have a lot of talking to do, and just getting to know everyone. This is a process, and we’re just getting started."
While the change will be read as a failure of the co-GM system, Hull said that’s not the case.
"You can call it what you want, but I was more Les’ intern or assistant than anything else," Hull said. "And I believe he made some great decisions and has the team in great shape. He’s pushed hard to get the development of the young kids going, and I still say that if we hadn’t been so hurt last year, we would have had a great year."
The Stars were 74-58-15 in the regular season under Hull and Jackson and reached the Western Conference finals in 2008. This season, though, they finished 12th in the West and missed the playoffs.
Both agreed that a single-GM system is better.
"I think you need one person in charge; I do believe that’s best," Jackson said. "You’re always going to listen to a lot of voices before making a decision, but I think one person needs to be making the final decision."
Jackson is expected to help Nieuwendyk a great deal in the transition. He has put most of the pieces in place to get the Texas Stars started in the Austin area next season as Dallas’ new AHL affiliate. He has the team ready for the June 26 draft, in which the Stars have the eighth overall selection, and he has 18 players under contract for next season at a cost of approximately $38 million.