Few things surprise me these days. Whether it is my following the latest political news or trying to avoid constant chatter about the Detroit Red Wings one thing more than most nearly made me spit out my coffee.
I initially had to choke down a gulp at reading about the government takeover of General Motors (If only I could talk politics here!) but even more so than our slow move to government run industry was the return of Dallas Star legend Joe Nieuwendyk to the organization, instead of leading the team to a championship from the ice he will instead do it from the front office as General Manager.
Although the entrance of Nieuwendyk means the end of the two-GM system, the question at hand must be is this really what is best for the club, or just a publicity stunt to appease angered Stars fans?
Although Tom Hicks addressed the issue of this being Nieuwendyk's first real taste at being a general manager (he was special assistant to Brian Burke and Cliff Fletcher in Toronto this past season) my concern doesn't lie with inexperience, but instead with his relationships within the team.
Of course, my worries may seem a bit overboard, but none the less they are serious and major for the organization to consider.
My initial concern as a fan is the players who remain from the Joe Nieuwendyk playing days. Mike Modano, first off, will return and should be returning. Even at his age he hasn't lost much of his talent. Joe will likely look to Mike to be a valuable go-between for GM-player relations.
Jere Lehtinen is one player Nieuwendyk must consider letting go, or keeping that he once called a teammate. Back in the late '90s, Lehtinen was a top level winger, and a Selke candidate. As sad as it is, hopefully Joe will see the likely liability Lehtinen is too hold on to. When he is healthy he is a gift, when he is injured the team suffers.
Sergei Zubov was a top-level defenseman when Joe wore the green star. Last season Zubov barely even saw action due to injuries. Sadly he and Lehtinen's fate may be one and the same.
Question is, will Joe be a harsh judge and make the tough choice that is likely better for the team? Or keep old friends around hoping for the best when likely the better days are behind players such as Zubov and Lehtinen.
The pieces are on the table for Nieuwendyk to put together a dangerous team. A few smart choices in the off season and a good player or two signed in free agency could easily see the Stars back in the Western Conference Finals.
Although I seem to nit-pick the new GM, I am truly happy. Although Les Jackson and Brett Hull are two favorite Stars front office guys for me, the clash of personality in the Co-GM job seemed to destroy the team.
Welcome back to Big-D Joe, we're glad to have you!
Photo: Courtesy of the33tv.com
Ken Armer is a Community Leader for the NHL and the Dallas Stars for Bleacher Report. He also is a writer for HockeyBuzz.com. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org