Dallas Stars Coaching Search: Jim Nill Not Surprised at Alain Vigneault's Decision

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The weekend was marked by disappointment for many where Alain Vigneault was concerned but Stars GM Jim Nill said he was not surprised.

Tom Gaglardi hiring Jim Nill to be the new general manager of the Dallas Stars was a victory. A clear one, where others had failed before. It felt a little like the winning streak ended at one, however, when it became known Friday that Alain Vigneault had removed himself for consideration after there had, supposedly, been a significant offer made.

Vigneault will coach the New York Rangers and some Stars fans felt more than just a little jilted. GM Jim Nill gave an interview with Bruce Levine on Ticket Sports Sunday on Fathers Day, a little more even-keeled.

"I guess I'm a little less worried than everyone else," Nill said. "Alain was on our list and our talks were going along pretty good with him but he had a decision to make. There's other teams out there looking for coaches, but there's also a long list of other coaches out there. So he was one of many. He wasn't the only guy I've been going after."

Was he surprised when Vigneault informed him (if you believe everything you read on Twitter, AFTER he had agreed in principle with New York) of his decision to take Dallas out of the running?

"Not really," Nill responded, simply. "I actually wasn't surprised. I had quite a few conversations with him and met with him personally once and I know he had a lot of passion for kind of original six cities. You know he was in Vancouver, a big market team there and he's coached Montreal and he mentioned the Rangers."

But it could have been more than that, as any of us with young children can attest - Family is a heavy consideration in a decision making progress such as this.

"His big struggle was his two young daughters back in Ottawa," Nill said, "so he was hoping to kind of get back east also, so I knew he had other factors tugging at his heart. I really wasn't surprised when it all ended up that way."

Does the perceived setback alter Nill's previously stated goal of having a coach in place before the draft on June 30th?

"It would be nice for the draft," he repeated as he's done in past weeks. "It would be nice for free agency. But if the process does take longer than that it's not a drop dead date that I have to have. Our season is still a long ways away. I'm not going to let that affect my decision at all."

The day of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft is also, coincidentally, the day that Dave Tippett's contract in Phoenix expires, but the new Stars GM was mum on any specifics where that is concerned.

"I can't really comment," Nill said. "Dave is still under contract with another team."

Though, he did go on to comment on it indirectly, unprompted, which bodes very well for we who (unwisely) dissect every little word and will continue to do so.

"I think everyone's watching the Phoenix situation," he continued. "Nobody really knows where it's going. I think the whole hockey world's going to know the direction of the Phoenix Coyotes before the draft. They almost have to. To have a draft and then two or three days later say that there's no team in Phoenix - I don't think that's going to happen."

The Finals will be over in a matter of a week, one way or the other, and then the Coyotes and Gary Bettman will have the span of another week to make any news they deem necessary. Nill, it sounds like, doesn't believe it will get that far.

"So I think this whole Phoenix situation is going to resolve [itself] before the draft and that's before Dave becomes a free agent so that's really not a point until we get to that time."

Tippett is a long shot and always was. He does not deny that they were interested in Vigneaut. So Tippett was never anyone's first choice, as it's assumed he'll be back with Phoenix. As every day passes, though, the question does become slightly more relevant.

For Nill the process just motors on like it has for months now.

"I've interviewed a lot of guys already but I want to make sure I don't leave any coaches out of the mix so I've got quite a few names to go [and] there's still a lot of work to be done."

He has a coach to sign, and more interviews to conduct. He has as many as nine selections to make on draft day 12 days from now, including two first-rounders, and six days after that he has to throw caution to the wind while getting involved with free agency, with the ever-present pulsations of the trade-market as his background music through it all.

Word may have broken of Nill's arrival as the Stars' season ended, but it's been non-stop work for the man tasked with bringing a franchise back to relevance. The next three weeks will bring an illuminating fruition of his hard work. One way or the other.

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