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Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill is in the third year of a five-year deal. But with the team atop the Western Conference thanks to his collection of shrewd and bold moves, the Stars figured, hey, what the heck, here’s another five years on top of that existing contract.
According to Mike Heika, the extension that will carry Nill, 57, through the 2022-23 season is expected to be announced on Friday.
It’s been a heck of a run for Nill in transforming the Stars, after they hired him from the Detroit Red Wings’ brain trust in 2013. As Heika notes:
Nill immediately hired Lindy Ruff as head coach and James Patrick as assistant coach in 2013 and also added Joe McDonnell as director of amateur scouting and Mark Leach as a scout. He then traded for Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley in the summer of 2013, traded for Jason Spezza in 2014, and added Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya and Antti Niemi last summer.
They’re not all home runs. Shawn Horcoff wasn’t. Sergei Gonchar wasn’t. But the majority of the veteran players that Nill’s acquired have worked out.
It’s said that a coach is only a good as his goalie; I’d proffer that a general manager is only as good as his owner, or more to the point how he utilizes the assets given to him from that owner.
In Tom Gaglardi, Nill’s been blessed with some deep pockets from which to pull contracts for players like Spezza and Sharp. They have a payroll of $69.2 million. One assumes that’ll continue when Nill faces his two greatest challenges as a GM: Signing his two biggest stars.
He’s been blessed with remarkably manageable cap hits for his two best players, as Tyler Seguin makes $5.75 million and Jamie Benn makes $5.25 million. The former is signed through 2019; the latter needs a new deal by Summer 2017. Both are headed to UFA status.
But there’s a reason Nill gets the big bucks: Benn’s new contract starts as Sharp’s leaves the payroll. Seguin’s new contract starts as Spezza’s leaves the payroll. Assuming they both stay in Dallas.
More than anything, Nill has created an atmosphere that might keep players happy in Dallas. From a Kevin Allen profile last year:
One of the reasons the Stars are headed in the right direction is that Nill has built a family atmosphere in his dressing room, and nobody cares more about his family than Nill. He and his wife, Bekki, are empty nesters, but Nill is still parenting the young men under his charge.
“He knows everything about every guy and he knows everything about every guy’s family,” Stars center Jason Spezza said. “He genuinely cares, and he’s extremely upbeat during down times.”
Pats on the back. Heart-to-heart talks. Pointed lectures. Second chances. You get full-service fathering from Nill.
Hopefully that includes secret ice cream when mom’s not looking. That’s always the best.
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