Nieuwendyk a savvy choice for new Stars GM, despite curious timing
It's been an active week for
On Thursday, he announced a willingness to sell off controlling interest in baseball's Texas Rangers, but not the Dallas Stars, as a concession to his personal economic meltdown. Today, while everyone in north Texas was at the lake or the pool trying to stay cool, he revealed there would be changes to his hockey club, as well. Hicks announced that he had hired former Stars center
Apparently, not everyone was able to beat the heat.
Though the timing is curious, the decision for change was not. The duo's hiring back in 2007 invigorated a club that was swirling the drain, but they took much of the blame for the team's failings both on and off the ice in 2008-09.
There were rumors swirling back as far back as December that Hicks had had enough with his two-headed GM monster, particularly Hull. It was the former sniper, after all, who insisted on signing loose cannon
That he was allowed to finish out the season now looks like nothing more than professional courtesy to a player who'd done so much for the team -- including scoring the Cup-clinching goal back in 1999 -- and a devoted long-term employee who'd done nothing to deserve this embarrassment.
Of course, Hicks also had to wait for the guy he wanted to become available. Nieuwendyk may be cut from the same cloth as Hull, but he's got a little more on his post-hockey resume than a few months work as a team's Ambassador of Fun. He spent the past season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he served as special assistant to the general manager and was said to be instrumental in the signings of coveted free agents
Prior to joining the Leafs, Nieuwendyk worked in a similar post with the Florida Panthers. Not quite a distinguished history of building Stanley Cup champions, but a little on-the-job training is better than none.
Still, this hiring seems to follow a similar pattern of risk as the last one. You won't find anyone in hockey with a bad word to say of Nieuwendyk. He's thoughtful, well spoken and all class. He'd make for a fantastic son-in-law. He may also make an excellent GM. You'll have no problem finding people willing to attest to his potential. But his paucity of front office experience (remember, he just retired in 2006) suggests a bit more seasoning might have helped him. And a more seasoned executive (for example, recent Minnesota Wild hire
We'll have to see how it plays out. In the short term, Nieuwendyk can meet with the team's scouts regarding the entry draft -- the Stars hold the No. 7 pick -- and can start planning for free agency. With his reputation, he can't help but be an asset as he tries to fill some gaping holes in Dallas' lineup. One of the players he'll be observing is
Hull, meanwhile, will be staying on as executive vice president (essentially, an extra voice in the room when Hicks and team president