With the Detroit Red Wings and the Dallas Stars facing off and the Red Wings' 21-year playoff streak on the line, the last thing you'd have expected Saturday was news of a front-office move involving the two clubs.
But, just moments before puck drop, TSN's Darren Dreger reported that Jim Nill, Detroit's Assistant General Manager, would soon be replacing Joe Nieuwendyk in Dallas:
All indications are the Dallas Stars are about to make a GM change. Detroit's Jim Nill expected to be named GM of Stars as early as Mon.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) April 27, 2013
You can certainly criticize the timing of the report. How does this come out five minutes before this game? Weird.
As for the move itself, it's tougher to question. Joe Nieuwendyk has begun to draw criticism for some of his work in Dallas, most notably, the James Neal trade. But even the way he handled his saleable assets at this year's trade deadline left many scratching their heads, and speaking of heads, Nieuwendyk has seemed over his at times.
Replacing Nieuwendyk with an experienced, respected hockey mind like Nill could be a wise move for a young team like Dallas. The Red Wings have won four Stanley Cups with Nill in the front-office. He's been on many shortlists for GM jobs in the past. He's even turned down a few. But it was only a matter of time before he wound up running a team on his own.
What this move means for Nieuwendyk remains to be seen. Will he be dismissed outright or reassigned within the organization? Maybe we'll find out midway through the second, perhaps with the Stars on a breakaway.
Dreger also reports that Glen Gulutzan's future as the Stars' head coach has yet to be determined.