Though Unconfirmed, Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk's Departure Appears Imminent

Bruce Bennett

Dallas Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk's departure seems imminent despite an evening of unconfirmed reports - And Red Wings assistant GM Jim Nill could be the man that replaces him.

Darren Dreger's tweet supposing the demise of Joe Nieuwendyk as Dallas Stars GM came out of the blue tonight, but as the hustle and bustle of the press box commenced and the national hockey media started weighing in it became clearer and clearer that there was a fire somewhere down in all that smoke.

Joe Nieuwendyk's departure from the employ of Tom Gaglardi now appears imminent and an announcement could come as soon as sometime Sunday, which was scheduled to be a day off for the Stars ahead of exit interviews to be done Monday or Tuesday.

Glen Gulutzan's status has not been discussed to the same extent, but the number of teams that change general managers and not head coaches in an off-season would seem to be a small number.

Pierre LeBrun is putting his name by this one as well...

The Dallas Stars will replace Joe Nieuwendyk as general manager with Detroit assistant GM Jim Nill, two sources confirmed to Saturday night.

TSN earlier reported the move just before the Stars hosted Nill's Red Wings to wrap up their regular season. It wasn't clear when the official announcement would come.

James Mirtle tweeted...

So there's some speculation on Gulutzan there that certainly seems to make sense at this hour. The truth is nobody seems to know.

The name Stars fans surely crave where confirmation on reports is concerned is Mike Heika, and on the subject he was unable to get official word from anyone at the arena Saturday night, as were several others that tried and tried. There's just no one talking right now.

Nevertheless, the probability seems high right now and that's all we can say.

The players were hurt after the game. Stephane Robidas was visibly disappointed, bordering on emotional. It's interesting to see him do what he can in front of cameras and microphones searching for answers that no one has, then go hug his kids and be a father about 20 feet away. It's an emotional time for all involved.

Tom Gaglardi was, supposedly, in the building tonight or at least in town - And you can't help but wonder what his emotions are at the time. If the report is true then the Stars have likely been working on this for a while. It would seems to make sense that luring Nill away from Detroit where others have failed in the past was not an overnight process.

Does that suggest that whether the Stars had rallied and qualified for the playoffs or not these apparent forthcoming changes would still have been made? There will be speculation on that throughout the off-season but early indications point to the affirmative.

If it indeed comes to pass Stars fans will have mixed emotions.

Joe Nieuwendyk is an icon in the Dallas hockey scene. He was a dominant force in the Stars' Stanley Cup run. He's beloved. So seeing him depart will be hard for many. Seeing his staff possibly depart will be hard. Families will be uprooted and relationships will be severed. It's not an easy thing for anyone close to the team.

Brenden Dillon thanked Nieuwendyk personally after the game as did Eric Nystrom when asked by Mike Heika, but largely declined to comment as it's very much a developing situation. It seemed likely that the post-game press activities were the first the players had heard of any of it.

Beyond the pain and the sadness, surely not felt by all as many will no doubt opine in the comments, there might be great joy for a fanbase in need of a win.

Hiring away a man who worked directly with Ken Holland for the last 15 years would, to put it mildly, seem like what you might call a "good get".

A tremendously good get. This will be universally lauded in hockey circles, even if nearly every radio and television host in the metroplex won't have heard of Jim Nill. (But really, who cares? That's been par for the course.)

Look for a press conference to announce Nill on Monday or Tuesday (Monday would allow for him to conduct or at least be involved in "exit interviews" himself as the week progresses, so that seems to make some sense but it's just guess work). Confirmation on Nieuwendyk's departure could come sooner (or not).

Whatever happened, be assured that things are changing. Be assured that those running this team feel at least partly the same as we do. We can't be assured success, but something different will be tried, and that's maybe all you can ask for right now.

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