by PuckStopsHere on 06/02/09 at 01:49 AM ET
I have written in the past about the unworkable co-GM situation of the Dallas Stars. With both Les Jackson and Brett Hull sharing the GM job, it was unclear who was truly in charge and led to conflict between them (the most high profile case was the Sean Avery signing that Hull supported and Jackson did not). Dallas has solved that problem by hiring a GM who jumps ahead of both Jackson and Hull in the Stars organization. Dallas has hired Joe Nieuwendyk to be their GM. Les Jackson returns to the role of director of scouting and player development that he held before his stint as a co-GM. Brett Hull becomes the team’s executive vice president and alternate governor. This sets up a situation where Dallas has a considerable brain trust in their front office and it is clear who is in charge (Nieuwendyk),
What isn’t clear to me is why Joe Nieuwendyk should be in charge. Nieuwendyk is a former star hockey player who will likely make the Hockey Hall of Fame. Upon retiring in 2006 he was placed on a fast track to a career as an NHL executive. He was hired as a special consultant to the general manager in Florida and then as a special assistant to the general manager in Toronto. Now he is getting his job as GM about two and a half years after his active retirement.
There are two tracks from which NHL GMs are hired. One is for people who work hard to build up a significant resume of accomplishments in many different positions in hockey. Typically these guys have significant university degrees. It takes years for these people to become NHL GMs (if they ever get there). An example of a person on this track is Chuck Fletcher, who was recently hired to be the Minnesota Wild GM.
The other track is for former NHL stars. These people retire and are immediately put into top management positions. In a few short years, they get to be NHL GMs.
Most of the successful NHL GMs of today took the long route. Even ex-players such as Ken Holland who are successful GMs did not get put onto the fast track (as Holland was never an NHL star). I don’t know why Dallas bothers with the ex-NHL star who only has a couple years of management experience in Nieuwendyk or Brett Hull. Les Jackson looks like he would be a very good GM if he was ever given the chance, but they have held him back for ex-NHL stars who are still beginning their management careers.
Joe Nieuwendyk will be the next GM of the Dallas Stars. He has a relatively short resume, which is common for an NHL star who gets that position. It is also common for somebody who was on the fast track to become an NHL executive as an ex-NHL star to never become a great NHL GM. That would not be a good thing for the Dallas Stars if Nieuwendyk follows that likely path.
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