Longtime Red Wings Assistant GM Jim Nill Named Stars GM After Turning Down Others
The Stars today named longtime Red Wings exec Jim Nill GM, one day after parting ways with former GM Joe Nieuwendyk. Nill, who will begin his new role immediately, spent 15 seasons as Red Wings Assistant GM, and 19 seasons overall as a member of the club's management team (Stars). In Dallas, Mike Heika notes Nill previously "turned down" recent offers, including one from the Canadiens, because of "his appreciation of the Red Wings and the health of his wife, Bekki, who has been battling cancer." However, Stars President & CEO Jim Lites said that he "presented the positives of the Stars organization, and Nill decided it was the right time." Gaglardi said, "I had a list of candidates, and when it became clear that Jim Nill would be interested in leaving Detroit and coming here, I threw the list away. I think he is without a doubt the best candidate to take this job." Heika notes Nill is a former player "who came up in management as a scout." Nill is "well-versed in talent evaluation from the NHL to the AHL to junior hockey and European play." Gaglardi said that Nill will "decide the fate of coach Glen Gulutzan and his staff and the front office" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 4/29). In Detroit, Helene St. James noted Nill for nearly a decade, has been "one of the most coveted minds in the NHL, with numerous other clubs ... trying to lure him from Detroit." Nill turned down past offers "partly because he held a very lucrative and powerful position within the Wings organization." Nill has had "last say at the Wings’ table at the NHL draft" (FREEP.com, 4/28). In Ft. Worth, Mac Engel wrote hiring Nill "makes perfect sense," as he was with the Red Wings when Lites served as COO from '82-93. Nill has been "next to one of the best GM's in the business in long-time Red Wings GM Ken Holland" (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 4/27).
RAW DEAL? In Dallas, Rick Gosselin writes, "I thought Nieuwendyk deserved one more year." The Stars "owed it to their general manager for the handcuffs that were placed on him during the first 29 months of his 46-month tenure." Nill will "need a greater financial commitment from ownership than the old one." It is "time to start spending." Gosselin: "Open the wallet and buy the missing pieces that wound up costing Nieuwendyk his job" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 4/29). The STAR-TELEGRAM's Engel wrote Nieuwendyk's "reign in the Stars front office was hamstrung mostly by the team's ownership problems from previous owner Tom Hicks." For three of the four years of Nieuwendyk's tenure, he was "limited in his ability to make moves because at first Hicks didn't want to spend money, and when the team went into bankruptcy the banks that were signing the checks didn't want to do anything big" (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 4/27). Nieuwendyk yesterday said, "Tom could have let me go when he bought the team, but he didn't, he gave me an opportunity and I'm thankful for that. But I hint it's important for him to move forward with his guys and it's important for me to take a little time off and spend it with my family" (DALLASNEWS.com, 4/28).