Dallas Stars Owner Tom Gaglardi Introduces New GM Jim Nill, Says "We Have to Aim Higher"

Ronald Martinez

"The biggest part of this game is drafting and development," Nill said, "and we're going to be one of the best at it."

As expected the Dallas Stars revealed their new general manager in Frisco today - Long time Detroit Red Wing assistant GM Jim Nill.

The hire represents a huge coup for a Stars organization still rebuilding in the wake of the ownership imbroglio that ravaged its ranks for years, particularly in light of the fact that other teams wanted him, and have wanted him for years.

"There have been a few other openings out there that have been presented to me in the past," said Nill, "but I was waiting for the right one to take, and coming to Dallas was that right one."

Asked in the press conference to quantify what makes the Dallas Stars the right fit Nill could only point to the men sitting with him in front of the cameras in Gaglardi and Stars President Jim Lites. It just felt right, he said.

"Jim Lites placed a call to Detroit to find out if Jim Nill had any interest in coming and sought permission to discuss and to meet with Jim Nill," Stars owner Tom Gaglardi said. "So it happened pretty quickly."

Two or three weeks was the guesstimated time-frame presented in the presser, putting the process sometime during the Stars' five-game win streak to push back into playoff contention.

So would Joe Nieuwendyk have been let go if Jim Nill hadn't been the one they thought they could get?

"I'm not sure," Gaglardi told the media.

"I think that the way the timing worked out it all evolved what it evolved into. I certainly was concerned about where we were going, where I wanted to be and I think in anything you always have to look to get better."

One such area in which to get better might be at head coach, but when asked Gaglardi deferred to Nill, who said a two-week process was beginning through which he would evaluate that (Glen Gulutzan) and other areas of the team.

Nill said he wants intelligent players that play hard, declining to define a specific style of team that he would build, but conceded that size is also a big factor in today's NHL where development is concerned.

"The biggest part of this game is drafting and development," he told media, "and we're going to be one of the best at it."

What that means for Les Jackson and the Stars' scouting staff in the long term is difficult to say. Nill will have to work diligently with the infrastructure already in place over the next eight weeks to prepare for a draft that's quickly, quickly approaching. The Stars will likely pick 10th in the first round.

Even with Nill there the focus was on Mr. Gaglardi throughout, who is in Dallas to work with the brain trust as the off-season begins, and media continue to ask about the slow turnaround of this franchise another year down the road.

"Culture is always a funny thing," Gaglardi responded. "It's a word that gets overused at some level because the culture we had here this year was clearly a bunch of successful people trying to be successful and get the team into the playoffs. It didn't work out."

"For my part I'm disappointed with the results of this season. I thought our team would be a playoff team and it didn't work out that way for a variety of reasons."

He referenced the difficulty in changing the mentality of his Kamloops Blazers at first, noting that the longer a team underachieves the harder it is to get back to a winning mindset.

"Great teams expect to win," Gaglardi continued. "It's really hard to get on top of the hill, but once you do it properly, once you get up on the hill it's hard to knock the guy off the hill. I think that explains a lot about what Detroit is today."

Consistency was a term used repeatedly by Nill and Gaglardi both. Nill called it the biggest thing in sports. The Stars gave him a five-year contract in the hopes of building just that.

"We've got to aim higher," Gaglardi finished. "Raise the bar higher, and not be satisfied with where we're at. It's about having a winning attitude and to do that is not a fluke. You have to have people in the leadership roles that have the experience to know what to do and how to do it and how to get us there and that's really why we're sitting here today."

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