(Helen St. James/Detroit Free Press) -For nearly two decades, Jim Nill has helped grow the Red Wings, nurturing their path from challenger to champion.
For nearly a decade, he has been one of the most coveted minds in the NHL, with numerous other clubs, including the legendary Montreal Canadiens, trying to lure him from Detroit. Nill kept turning offers down, partly for family reasons and partly because he held a very lucrative and powerful position within the Wings organization.
The Dallas Stars were able to get a yes from Nill, though, and plan to introduce him as the general manager Monday. The Stars fired general manager Joe Nieuwendyk over the weekend, after the club missed the playoffs and ended the season with a 3-0 loss to the Wings.
Neither Nill or Detroit general manager Ken Holland wanted to comment on the situation.
Nill, 55, has been with the Wings since 1994, a few years after he retired as a player. Over time he took command of the organization's scouting department, which meant logging a lot of miles around the world. Earlier this month, for example, Nill was in Sochi, Russia, for the U-18 championship.
Nill has had last say at the Wings' table at the annual draft, making the final decision if there was dissension about which player to take. In recent years, that's yielded picks like forwards Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson and defenseman Brendan Smith, all of whom have played significant roles this season in helping the Wings set up a first-round playoff date opposite the Anaheim Ducks.
Holland is likely to fill the vacancy from within, as he has surrounded himself with good personnel: There's Ryan Martin, chiefly the team's salary cap specialist, who Steve Yzerman tried hard to take with him to Tampa Bay a few years ago, and of course a slew of former players ranging from Kris Draper to Kirk Maltby to Chris Chelios and Jiri Fischer. Holland may opt to form more of a committee to take over the various aspects of Nill's job.