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Apr 27, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; The Dallas Stars salute their fans after the loss to the Anaheim Ducks during the overtime period in game six of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at American Airlines Center. The Ducks defeated the Stars 5-4 and win the series 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Stars' Jim Nill Breeding Championship Mentality

Recently Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill mentioned that he likes the idea of pairing newly acquired Star Ales Hemsky with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. CBC’s Elliot Friedman quoted Nill referencing his top offensive combination, “They are shooters, we need a passer with them.”

Think about what that means for a moment. No disrespect to Valeri Nichushkin, but he isn’t nearly as good as a set up guy or possession player as Hemsky is. Is Nill saying that he thinks both Seguin and Benn are capable of exceeding their totals from last season? It looks like it, and that’s good news for Stars fans.

This is a clear message from Nill to Benn and Seguin that while what they did last season is good, he expects them to do better. He expects them to grow and build on that success. It would be very easy to say that they did a great job last year and now we need to build around them (the latter obviously happened), but Nill won’t be satisfied with that. If the general manager is sending that type of message to arguably the two best players on the roster, what do you think that says to the rest? You can bet your bottom dollar that every Star on the roster and every member of the organization understands there is no complacency. There is the expectation of progress, and it is going to be realized.

Much was made when Nill came on about changing the culture in Dallas. This is part of how you do that, by holding your best players accountable, and challenging them to get better, even when they just set career bests across the board.

How much better can Benn and Seguin be with Hemksy remains to be seen. Hemsky’s possession numbers were off the charts in the small sample size with Ottawa. Hemksy is a great passer and knows how to find success when paired with competent teammates. Pairing him with two of the purest shooters in the league could elevate a line that is already dangerous to a potentially unstoppable level.

Right now, it doesn’t really matter how much better, if any, Benn and Seguin play with Hemksy, Nichushkin or anyone else that Lindy Ruff pairs with the duo. Simply by Nill making that statement the message has been sent. It is irrelevant if you are the top point producer or the player who averages the least amount of ice time. You are expected to improve your play continually, and it is that kind of mindset that breeds a championship caliber organization.

As always, I welcome your comments. Thanks for reading and go Stars!

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