By MIKE HEIKA
Joe Nieuwendyk is the right man at the right time, Stars owner Tom Hicks said Sunday after announcing the former Stars player is the new general manager of the team.
Hicks said he reassessed the idea of having two men as co-GMs _ the only team in pro sports with that setup _ and decided to reassign Brett Hull to the position of Executive Vice President and Alternate Governor and Jackson to Director of Scouting and Player Development.
That allows Nieuwendyk, who was a rising star in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization, to come in and take over as the sole voice in the GM chair. Nieuwendyk, 42, retired in 2006 after a 20-year NHL career and has served in front office of the Panthers and Maple Leafs.
``He's intelligent, he's experienced, he's meticulous, he's somebody who people have compared to Bob Gainey,'' Hicks said. ``He's had the opportunity to see how the job is done with two different teams, and he has been a player on three different teams that have won Stanley Cups, so I believe he's more than prepared for this opportunity.''
Nieuwendyk won the Stanley Cup with Calgary in his second full NHL season in 1988. He was traded to the Stars in 1995 as the first big move of Hicks' ownership, and helped the Stars win the Stanley Cup in 1999 and get back to the finals in 2000. He was traded to New Jersey in 2002 and helped the Devils win the Stanley Cup in 2003.
Nieuwendyk finished his career with 1,126 points (564 goals and 562 assists) in 1,257 games. He also had 116 points in 158 career playoff games. He led the playoffs in goal scoring in 1999 and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player.
``I am ready for this opportunity,'' Nieuwendyk said in a press release. ``The Dallas Stars have built a winning tradition over the years, and I want to help continue that legacy.''
Hicks, who came up with the idea of two GMs in 2007, stopped short of saying the idea failed.
``It can be complicated, and there is something to be said for a single voice,'' Hicks said. ``There's probably a reason more people don't try (two people).''
But he added that he believes this move allows the Stars to use the talents of all three men.
``Les's first love is scouting, and he's spectacular at it, so he definitely helps us there,'' Hicks said. ``And we need Brett to help find new ways to produce money for this team. He'll work with me and (team president) Jeff Cogen, and I've always seen him as a man with strong ideas, so we're hoping he'll have ideas how to help us there. It's a big job for all of us.''
Hicks, who last week put the Texas Rangers up for sale, said he very much wants the Stars to remain a part of Hicks Sports Group.
``I made it clear last week that we want to hold onto this team and continue the tradition we have built here,'' he said. ``This is a strong step in that direction. Joe understands the tradition, and also can push us forward.''