Unconfirmed rumors have begun spreading through the Dallas Stars community that general manager Joe Nieuwendyk will be relieved of his position with the team as early as tomorrow.
Initial reports of Nieuwendyk’s release came from TSN hockey insider Darren Dreger just before the start of the second period in Dallas’ game against the Detroit Red Wings tonight. The report can be found here.
Tonight’s game against the Red Wings closed out the fifth season in a row the Stars have missed out on the playoffs, and first indications from sources at TSN and Dallas’ local news station WFAA, site trade decisions such as those surrounding Alex Goligoski for James Neil and Matt Niskanen, and April’s trades of Brenden Morrow, Jaromir Jagr and Derek Roy as strong factors for Nieuwendyk’s release.
The reports also indicate Nieuwendyk will be replaced by Detroit Red Wings assistant GM Jim Nill. Nill was a recruiting scout for the Ottawa Senators, and joined the Red Wings front office three years later. Nill has served as the assistant general manager in Detroit for 15 years and specifically works in prospect development and recruitment.
In a poll conducted by nhl.com earlier this month, readers were ask to choose the top general managers in the NHL, and Nieuwendyk was nowhere on the list. Detroit GM Ken Holland held first place in the poll.
So why no Joe up there in the top eight, and why the decision to move in a different direction in management? Four years with no playoffs? Of course that makes a difference. And sure, the Goligoski decision hasn’t been a strong return on investment, but the Kari Lehtonen gamble has certainly paid off. So, did the Michael Ryder, Erik Cole trade play into what may have already been brewing? And then there’s the trade of former captain Brenden Morrow that incensed fans around the community that could very well have something to do with it.
Ultimately, all fans have at this point is speculation. TSN has reported the decision regarding Nieuwendyk will be made as early as Monday, while WFAA reports the decision could come down the pike by tomorrow.