“I’m very proud of what we accomplished,” Nieuwendyk said. “I know you get measured on getting to the playoffs and challenging for Stanley Cups, but I feel we’ve made a lot of progress in four years. I feel good about this group of players moving forward.”
Nieuwendyk had one year left on his contract, but owner Tom Gagliardi apparently felt the team had underachieved for the year.
"Statistically, I just think we have too many issues that reflect a lot of problems," Gaglardi said. "We didn't improve significantly in any area, other than our power play, where we went from 30th to 17th. We have to work to become a good team in every area, and then the playoffs and everything else will take care of itself. Right now, we're not good enough."
Nieuwendyk, joining the Stars in 2009, certainly brought experience and energy to the Stars management and lineup where he tried to pull in both young and seasoned players to work the season into Playoff potential with a seriously flat budget. Unfortunately, the perils of the playoff bound hit the Stars hard with injuries and major losses at the wrong time.
What were some of Nieuwendyk’s fatal decisions?
- He fired Mark Crawford two years into his three year contract. While I don’t think that was a bad idea, it still bleeds the Stars a coach’s contract year money.
- He passed on hiring Ken Hitchcock, one of the Stars’ fan favorite of Stars coaches, who went on to become Coach of the Year in St. Louis.
- And before that, he fired Dave Tippett, another coach who proved his worth by becoming Coach of the Year in Phoenix.
But all that is behind us now as the Dallas Stars move on with Jim Nill.
Although like Nieuwendyk, this is Nill’s first time to GM, he bring much more experience in the office than Nieuwendyk had, who had only two years from play retirement to GM-ing with Dallas.
Nill comes from a scouting background and his last 15 years as assistant GM with the Detroit Red Wings. Although from the “dreaded Detroit” scene, they have spent the past 22 years in the playoffs, the longest playoff streak in North American pro sports to 22 seasons. And the Wings won four Stanley Cup playoffs with Nill in office.
Jim Nill's duties with Detroit included directing their amateur scouting and selections at the annual NHL Entry Draft. He had also served as the general manager of the Adirondack Red Wings. Players like Pavel Datsuk and Henrick Zetterberg were drafted and developed by Nill and Ken Holland, Detroit’s GM.
Nill signed a five year contract with Dallas. I hope that doesn’t prove too expensive for an organization that is getting known for paying not to play, or in this case, not to coach.
"I just think there's no substitution for experience," Gaglardi said. "If there's one word to describe Jim Nill, that's something he's got boatloads of. He's known around the league for being a hard-working guy and this is a big job."
The Stars are stocked now with prospects and young players sprinkled with seasoned players. It’s a great time for GM Jim Nill to build a winning team from the ground up for the Dallas Stars.