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04/12/2012

Former Dallas Stars GM Doug Armstrong has chilled out & has the St. Louis Blues in the playoffs

Doug-armstrong-apThe greatness that is the NHL playoffs are upon us, and they began with a very entertaining Flyers' 4-3 OT win in Pittsburgh. Nice gag by the Penguins, who were unable to protect a 3-0 lead.

Even though the Dallas Stars are not in the playoffs (again), a slew of their former players and suits are. Most notably, former Stars head coach Dave Tippett and former Stars goalie Mike Smith have the Phoenix Coyotes in the playoffs again. Funny how a horrid ownernship situation in Phoenix has not prevented Tip' and the Coyotes from making the playoffs but the Stars can't get in ... sorry, that's another column.

The most notable other NHL franchise flush with Dallas Stars are the St. Louis Blues, who begin their playoff series against San Jose tonight in The Lou'.

On the Blues roster includes former Stars center Jason Arnott, Jamie Langenbrunner and B.J. Crombeen.
They are coached by former Stars coach Ken Hitchcock, and their general manager is former Stars assistant GM and head GM Doug Armstrong.

The St. Louis Stars finished second in the West with 109 points.

Army was with the Stars for 17 seasons before he was fired by Tom Hicks in the 2007-'08 season. The scuttle around that team was Army was so intense, so emotional that he was so uncomfortable to be around and it affected everyone in the organization. That may have been an easy out to fire a guy, but Army was a very intense man who had a hard time controlling his emotions during a game.

He and I had our share of "conversations". 

Armyy could be extremely emotional; not on the same level as Oilers president Kevin Lowe, but intensity poured from Army's personality.

It wasn't until former Dallas Stars PR guy and current Stars hockey ops guy Mark Janko had a discussion with Army did some of this change.

"You know how Mark is and he was so positive about it and he said to me, 'You are emotional and we understand it but you are uncomfortable to be around,'" Army recounted in a conversation we had on Wednesday. "Who wants to be uncomfortable to be around? When I took over in Dallas I wanted it to work so well and expectations were so high and it showed to the people I worked with. I wanted to win so badly and I didn't trust that people wanted to win as bad as I did. I hope I have learned how to deal with different personalities better.

"I would say I have gone to the far extreme now on the other side. I just sit there and try not to show the emotion. I know now slow and steady wins this race. I try to empower people because we all do want what is best for the organization."

2012-st.-louis-blues-ken-hitchcockArmy's decision to hire Hitchcock was not the case of a friend hiring a friend. This was a case of hiring a very good coach. Hitch' may be full of it, but the man knows his craft.

"I told the players, 'Regardless of what you think, he is the smartest guy in the room right now,'" Army said. "When he says something it's easy for them to believe because all they had to do was just look at his resume."

And as far as what the Dallas Stars have become? 

"It was not comfortable for me, or Tippett or anyone of us who were there to go into that building and see it half full," Army said. "I will always have a soft spot in my heart for that team because everything I am I owe to the Stars. I want to see them do great, not at the expense of my team now. I think with Joe (Nieuwendyk) and bringing back Jim Lites they have it going in the right direction again."

 @MacEngelProf
tengel@star-telegram.com 
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