With the big news coming down yesterday, there are more than a few opinions out there on the hiring of Joe Nieuwendyk as the new General Manager of the Dallas Stars.
"I think I've been very fortunate in that I have been able to see a lot of people at work, and I've been able to learn a lot," Nieuwendyk said. "Just in the last couple of years, to work with Jacques Martin [in Florida], Cliff Fletcher and Brian Burke, those are three very diverse people with different ideas. I think that's a good thing."
"I was talking to Bob [Gainey] earlier today, and that's just invaluable for me to have a person like that, and really all of the people who have been there," Nieuwendyk said.
What kind of team does he want to oversee? He said personnel will dictate that in the short term. "I think you have to see what's there, what works and what the organization has been good at," he said.
"If you look at the past couple of years, you can see Anaheim win with a physical style and Detroit win with a little more skill, so there's no one way to do it. I think you have to find what fits you best and make that work."
"I think Joe is going to be fantastic in this job," Hull said. "Even back when he was playing, everyone said he was going to be a great GM."
While Jackson added: "I'm thrilled for Joe, and I think he will do well. His personality fits this job."
While the change will be read as a failure of the co-GM system, Hull said that's not the case.
"You can call it what you want, but I was more Les' intern or assistant than anything else," Hull said. "And I believe he made some great decisions and has the team in great shape. He's pushed hard to get the development of the young kids going, and I still say that if we hadn't been so hurt last year, we would have had a great year."
"I think you need one person in charge; I do believe that's best," Jackson said. "You're always going to listen to a lot of voices before making a decision, but I think one person needs to be making the final decision."
"He’s intelligent, he’s experienced, he’s meticulous, he’s somebody who people have compared to Bob Gainey," Hicks said. "He’s had the opportunity to see how the job is done with two different teams, and he has been a player on three different teams that have won Stanley Cups, so I believe he’s more than prepared for this opportunity."
Jackson is expected to help Nieuwendyk a great deal in the transition. He has put most of the pieces in place to get the Texas Stars started in the Austin area next season as Dallas’ new AHL affiliate. He has the team ready for the June 26 draft, in which the Stars have the eighth overall selection, and he has 18 players under contract for next season at a salary cost of approximately $38 million. Hicks also said he doesn't see the co-GM experiment as a failure, but rather a step in the process.
"It can be complicated, and there is something to be said for a single voice. There's probably a reason more people don't try [two people]," he said. "I think what we get now, however, is all three are good hockey men and all three will be helping the organization in different ways."
Doug Armstrong, St. Louis' director of player personnel who is set to become the Blues' GM when Larry Pleau retires in 2010, worked with Nieuwendyk for Team Canada on this year's silver-medal winning World Championship team. "When you're a manager, all you want out of your top players is work ethic and to know they will be consistent night after night," said Armstrong. "That's what Joe was with Dallas and with every other team he played for in his career. '"I can tell you from working with him for Team Canada and watching what he was doing (for the Toronto Maple Leafs), scouting a lot of college games which is not the sexiest part of our business, Joe is not afraid to put in the work."
Doug Armstrong, St. Louis' director of player personnel who is set to become the Blues' GM when Larry Pleau retires in 2010, worked with Nieuwendyk for Team Canada on this year's silver-medal winning World Championship team.
"When you're a manager, all you want out of your top players is work ethic and to know they will be consistent night after night," said Armstrong. "That's what Joe was with Dallas and with every other team he played for in his career.
'"I can tell you from working with him for Team Canada and watching what he was doing (for the Toronto Maple Leafs), scouting a lot of college games which is not the sexiest part of our business, Joe is not afraid to put in the work."
Since being forced to retire because of back problems two years ago, Nieuwendyk has served as a special consultant to the GM in Florida and this year was special assistant to GM Cliff Fletcher in Toronto. Now Hicks and the Stars just want him to be special. It won't be easy.
He inherits a team with advancing age and a young defense corps that did not live up to expectations after making a solid run to the Western Conference Finals in 2008. Mike Modano and Sergei Zubov turn 39 this summer. Goaltender Marty Turco turns 34.
Jackson goes back to what he does best, in part because Hull convinced too many people last summer that Sean Avery would be a good addition for the Stars. It's multi-million dollar mistakes like that one that Nieuwendyk cannot afford to make.
But I think in a lot of ways, Hicks is looking for Nieuwendyk to bring the same kind of role model influence that Ryan has brought to Arlington this summer. The Rangers head for New York today as the team with the best record (30-20) and largest first-place lead (4 ½ games) in the American League. If you saw that coming two months ago, consider yourself the one.
The guy you feel for in this shakeup is Jackson, who at 55 returns to run the team's scouting department. It was in 1998 that Jackson lost out to Detroit assistant Don Waddell for the GM position of the expansion Atlanta franchise. Nine seasons later, the Thrashers have never won a post-season game and Waddell keeps cashing those GM checks.
I know a lot of you have talked about Guy Carbonneau coming in as the coach, but I'm not sure that is going to happen. Nieuwendyk just served as the assistant GM for Team Canada at the World Championships in Switzerland and Dave Tippett was the assistant coach. The two know each other pretty well, and have worked well together. I think that's a sign that Tippett's job is fine for right now. I think he is on a short leash, but so is every NHL coach.
There are few people in this business I admire and respect as I do Joe Nieuwendyk. He’s thoughtful, educated, empathetic and sincere. He is professionalism personified. His affect on this organization the first time around was enormous. The record will also show that the Dallas Stars have not been the same since he left. Yes we’ve done some very good things – but it’s my personal observation – we can do better and we can be better.
Joe has thought carefully about this for some time – and during the past week Joe went very deliberately through the process, taking his time, slowing it down, making sure that he did his homework and talked to all he needed to, and that he was satisfied that it would be the right thing for everyone.
I can tell you that he’ll make thoughtful evaluations and informed decisions. He’ll carry a "follow-me" air of professionalism through Frisco. His presence and his actions will make us better. I’m thrilled on many levels that he is joining us – again.
Last summer, as interim/caretaker GM of the floundering Maple Leafs, Fletcher brought in Nieuwendyk from Florida to the Leafs' front office in a move that was warmly welcomed by the locals. Fletcher saw a future front-office star in Nieuwendyk. And who knows, if Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment failed in its long-rumored bid to lure a heavyweight like Brian Burke, perhaps, the thinking was, Fletcher could mould Nieuwendyk into the future GM in Toronto. But Burke was brought in, and from that day on, Nieuwendyk's future was in flux, even though he worked well alongside Burke and assistant GM Dave Nonis, helping lure a pair of high-profile college free agents in Tyler Bozak and Christian Hanson.
"We are extremely pleased for Joe," Burke told ESPN.com on Sunday. "And we thank him for a job well done here in Toronto."
Cat fans will probably best remember "Nieuwy" and his famous dressing-room pep-rally of some two seasons ago: The Panthers were down going into the third period, then-coach Martin's boys lacking any whiff of energy. The final frame featured a completely different squad: fiery, driven, confident. A win was achieved (and no, I don't recall the opponent or the date, simply the night-and-day aspect).
Written up the next morning, it was discovered that Nieuwendyk had made an appearance in the "room" that night, between periods, and said something that inspired the troops. What was said is not entirely known; the end result was that it worked.
And we were pining for him to take over the coaching reins the very same day.
I think that this is a good move for the Stars. Nieuwendyk has put in some good time with Fletcher and Burke. He probably felt that there wasn't much room to advance with Burke and Nonis so he had to make the move. He had been working mostly with NCAA scouting from what I gathered and it's paid off well for the Leafs. We'll always remember his pair of goals in game 7 against the sens in 2004. He's going back to a place where he is rightly loved and, sorry if you like Brett Hull, but he's very intelligent, dedicated, and hard-working guy. We wish him all of the best as long as he doesn't get any players that the Leafs want.