DALLAS — The Dallas Stars fired general manager Joe Nieuwendyk on Sunday after four seasons, two coaches and no playoff appearances.
The dismissal came the day after Dallas completed a 22-22-4 season. The Stars missed the playoffs for the fifth season in a row.
Owner Tom Gaglardi said in a statement that Nieuwendyk represented the Stars “extremely well” and “helped put pieces in place that will once again turn this team into a contender.” He added, however, the team must go “in a different direction with our intentions set on returning to the elite” of the NHL.
The team is to announce its new GM on Monday. While the Stars have not said who it is, Gaglardi is “confident we have found the right general manager to return us to the pathway of success.”
The team has refused to comment on reports that Jim Nill, Detroit’s longtime assistant GM, will get the job.
The future of coach Glen Gulutzan wasn’t addressed by the team in its statement. Dallas holds an option for a third season for Gulutzan, who is 64-57-9 in his two seasons after ending the lockout-shortened season with a 3-0 home loss to Detroit. The Stars dropped their last five games and won only once in their last seven after a five-game winning streak.
When asked about his job after Saturday night’s game, Gulutzan said that wasn’t under his control. He did praise Nieuwendyk.
“All I can say is that Joe’s been tremendous for me. I think he’s done a hell of a job,” Gulutzan said. “You can see with our farm team and the young guys that we have here.”
As a player in Dallas, Nieuwendyk won the Conn Smythe Award as playoff MVP in 1999 when the Stars won their only Stanley Cup.
When hired by Nieuwendyk two years ago to replace the fired Marc Crawford, the 41-year-old Gulutzan had never coached in the NHL. Gulutzan had been a successful minor league coach.
Crawford was hired following Dave Tippett’s firing in 2009, after the Stars missed the playoffs a year after making it to the Western Conference finals. Tippett later that year replaced Wayne Gretzky as coach in Phoenix and led the Coyotes to the playoffs. He was honoured as the league’s top coach.
The Stars weren’t eliminated from the playoff chase until Thursday night. They stayed in post-season contention even after longtime captain Brenden Morrow was traded, a week before 41-year-old points leader Jaromir Jagr and Derek Roy were dealt at the trading deadline.
Dallas got several young players and extra draft picks in those deals. Within days after Jagr and Roy were traded, the young Stars went on a season-best five-game winning streak.
Morrow waived his no-trade clause to go to Pittsburgh, which entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Morrow’s rookie season in Dallas was 1999-2000, when the Stars were the Stanley Cup runner-up a year after their title.