Stars GM Jim Nill talks coaching change, coaching search, and more

Stars GM Jim Nill discussed the coaching change, coaching search another issues today with the media. Here are some highlights of his chat with the media. The transcript is provided by Schulyer Dixon of the Associated Press.

On the coaching search

“I’ve already started the process. Been talking to some people already. Looking for an experienced guy, looking for a good coach. This isn’t a rebuild. I think we’ve got a lot of good pieces in place. It was a tough year. The tough part was he never really had his team this year. That’s probably the hardest part of this whole season. He didn’t get a chance to finish something that he started. We knew we’re not that far away. It may not look like it this year. But when you have the injuries that we had, we went through 32 players, 20 forwards, I’ve never seen anything like that before. It was a tough year that way, but you’ve still got to find your way through it and we didn’t. We’re looking for an experienced coach. We’re going to get back at it and get back on the horse.”

On the assistant coaches

“James Patrick will not be back. Curt Fraser, he’s going to have an opportunity to interview with the next coach. The people I’ve been talking to have all had interest in maybe bringing him back so he’s maybe going to get an interview. No guarantees. [Goaltending coach] Jeff Reese will be back. [Video coach] Kelly Forbes will be back also.”

On assessing the coaching staff

“Lindy, we came together here four years ago. We’ve made the playoffs two of the four years. I love where he took the team. When we got here, there wasn’t a lot of pieces in place. I think we did a pretty quick turnaround. I look at the depth of the organization now, the success we’ve had. If you take away this season and what happened, pretty successful tenure he had here. Lindy’s a good game. He’s a good coach. We built a great relationship. He’s going to move on. He’s a great coach. He’ll get another job. And we’re going to move forward here also.”

Was there talk of a possible extension

“We talked during the season. Lindy and I, we did have contract discussions. In the end, the way this season was going, we both decided, you know what, let’s just wait and see how the year is. He wanted to ride it out, see where it’s going. He was disappointed in the way the year was going. So we sat down and said let’s just finish the year out. Lindy was very good yesterday. He said, you know what, maybe there needs to be a different message here. He was very open about it. He’s disappointed. He knows the business. We’re a performance business. It’s about wins and losses. It wasn’t there this year. Our power play, PK was bottom of the league. Our goals against was bottom of the league. It’s a performance-based business. He knows that.”

On how the number of possible candidates for new head coach

“Right now I’ve had three people I’ve been talking to. May get expanded here a little bit more. I’m hoping this is going to happen pretty quickly. These guys are all good coaches. This league moves pretty fast. I know there’s other teams looking at things also. I hope that this happens pretty quickly.”

If timing is accelerated by other teams looking for coaches

“I’m not going to make a quick decision if it’s not the right person. But I have a pretty good idea who the coaches are am looking out there. There’s a pretty good stable of coaches with great success. I’ve kind of targeted those ones. I hope it moves along quickly. But we’ll see.”

Is there is a style you are looking for in a new coach

“First of all, you’re trying to build the most-skilled team you can. That’s what you’re trying to build. You hear people say, well, I get more defense. In the end, good players can play good defense. Good defensive players without skill can’t play the skill game. We’re trying to build the best team we can here with the most skill. And in the end, the coach’s job is going to be to give them the structure to win in the right way. Part of this too is the onus on players. They have to play the proper way. There’s no coach out there that the game’s going on and there’s a turnover at center ice, that’s not in the game plan with the coach. So there is a responsibility in the players also to play the right way.”

On the team’s goaltending

“Goaltending, there in this with everybody else. They’ve had their good times. They’ve had their bad times also. Everybody on this team is in this together right from the management, coaches on down. We’re all responsible for this season. And the goalies are part of it. I thought the goaltending early in the season probably kept our head above the water when we had six of our top nine forwards out. And then they had their moments I think from January on where they were very inconsistent. So they’re part of this also. It’s got to get better along with the rest of the team.”

Game plan for offseason

“It’s a busy spring and summer for the whole league coming up with the expansion draft. First of all, we’ve got to get our team, whatever changes are going to happen. But the expansion draft comes into that also. And then you add in free agency. This is going to be a busy summer for the league.”

What he learned about team during adversity of season

“I just addressed the team and that’s what we talked about. We talked about when there’s failure, you find out a lot about yourself.  How are you going to define yourself. I think at times we didn’t do that. There’s different things that come into your game all of a sudden when things are going bad. To be successful, you’re going to go through failure. And we had to go through that. But we still have to learn how to get out of those situations. You do find a lot about people. I think people find out about themselves, right from the top on down. Management team, we found out some things. Coaches have found out things. I think the players have found out things about themselves. A lot of guys have never been through this before. It’s a learning tool for them also.”

On a possible return of Valeri Nichushkin from Russia

“Val has another year left. I’ve been talking to his agent. I don’t know whether there’s an out or not. You never know with the Russian federation. Don’t know if this Olympic decision is going to come into play there also. We’ll be in touch with his representation and just kind of see where that goes from there. Right now he’s playing for the national team trying to make the world championships. They’re playing some exhibition games.”

On the two-goalie system and will new coach have input

“I’m hoping a coach comes on board pretty quick. But we have a good idea where we have to go with things, especially we’ve got an expansion draft, you have to expose somebody. So there’s different rules in place that we have to look at. We’ll be having our meetings looking at xx, looking at free agents. That’ll move along as we get into May or June more.”

On the status of Mattias Janmark

“We’re in uncharted territory with Matias. There’s been no other athlete that’s had this before. He’s doing a great job. He feels good about himself. I think people have seen him. He’s out skating with the team. He is tomorrow I believe going in to get the screws out. He has two screws that were put in place. Those come out tomorrow and then he’s going to be shut down for four to six weeks after that. No heavy training. And then he can get back training after that. If there’s anybody that can come back, I think it’s him. He’s feeling great. He wanted to see if he could play some games late in the year. But we just said, you know what, is it worth it to play one or two games whereas you’ve got another six months to rehab and let that bone strengthen up. In the end, talked to the doctors, thought it was a better idea let’s use this summer to get even stronger.”

On Patrick Sharp’s hip surgery

“Patrick’s doing very well. Surgery went as expected. The doctors are very excited. They had the tears he thought he had, but there’s no surprises. So he’s feeling good. He’s going to have lots of time. It’s a four to six month recovery and he’s going to have the full six months. That’s good for him.”

On if the offseason will entail more trades than free agents

“You never know. I hate to say yes because nothing could happen. And I don’t want say the other because the opposite could happen. If there’s a silver lining to this season, with all the injuries, we end up having a lot of young players we never thought would be here. A lot of these young players, the plan was to come in next year. The Shores, the Dickinsons, the Smiths, Faksa playing more. The plan was for a lot of those guys to be down in the minors most of the year, be there for depth. When we had all the injuries, they end up playing a big portion of the season for us. So we’re probably ahead of the curve that way. We probably found out more about those guys and we found out good things about them. I think that really helps building our roster for next season.”

On if any players may require offseason surgery

“We’ve got a couple of guys have to get looked at. I don’t know if they’re surgeries or not. They have their physicals tomorrow. Get a better read from them. Patrick Sharp, that was the No. 1 priority. We’ve got some other guys with some shoulder issues. I don’t know if they’re operations though.”

On the team’s group of defensemen

“It’s interesting. Some guys grabbed it and some didn’t. That’s the league. It’s like people always used to say, boy, you’ve got these eight guys and they’re not getting an opportunity. I go back to Mattias Janmark last year. Mattias Janmark was going back to Sweden. He grabbed an opportunity. I thought this year Esa Lindell grabbed an opportunity. And I think Julius Honka is close to grabbing an opportunity. I think the other guys, they’re still finding their way. That’s something we’re going to look at. Expansion draft is going to come into play once again. Expansion will take some of these moves. I think we still need to get better in the back end. That will be another priority moving forward.”

On if he’s finalized his list for the expansion draft

“Still up in the air. We’ll be talking to other teams as we go. Teams are calling, saying hey, if you have protection troubles, would you move this guy. So a lot of moving parts to it.”

If the team has done mock expansion drafts

“Back in January, we had our pro and amateur meetings. Every scout has their group of six, seven, eight teams. They went through their expansion draft. We have a rough idea who teams are going to protect, who they aren’t, which teams have protection issues, which teams don’t. So we’ve gone through that process, much like Vegas is doing right now. Down the road, I’ll be calling teams, saying, hey I know you’ve got troubles. Now I know they’re talking to more teams than myself. We’ll kind of see where that goes.”

Does the team need an enforcer to protect some of its smaller defensemen

“No, I don’t think so. The game isn’t going that way. The game is four lines. We’ve got a back end that’s probably as big as any back end when you starting talking Johns, Oleksiak, Nemeth and these guys. As far as an enforcer, I don’t us getting run out of rinks when we go on the road and stuff.  I think the game’s gone away from that. I think we’ve got lots of size coming up. When you start looking at the Faksas, the Dickinsons, Jamie Benn’s a big man. We’ve got some good size and stuff. I don’t think that’s a reason for what happened this year, I guess. Put it that way.”

On if things will happen fast in the offseason or will it be a progression

“I think it’s going to be a progression. You might see a couple of things here or there. Right now, you’ve got teams in the playoffs and some of those teams have protection issues. Right now they’re worried about the playoffs. I think once you get into May, first of June, that’s when things will start to roll a little bit. But right now I think teams are trying to figure things out. George McPhee’s probably the most popular guy in the world right now. We’re all calling him. He holds the cards. In the end, he can decide what he wants to do. He can go fishing for some players, see what happens. Right now he holds the cards and then internally a lot of us teams will be talking, saying hey I know you’ve got protection troubles, do you want this guy. And we’ll go from there. A lot of moving parts.”

Comfort level in losing a player through expansion

“We knew going in that’s part of the expansion. That’s the way it is. We’re set up pretty good I think. I guess the bright side is you only lose one. You don’t want to lose anybody but unfortunately that’s part of the process and we know it could happen. Now, I get back to if there’s somebody there that I don’t  want to lose, do I go make a deal with Vegas, do I move a player so I can protect him? That’s what we’ve got to figure out.”

About Mark Stepneski

Writer for, covered the Dallas Stars for ESPN Dallas from 2010-12, and founder of the defunct Andrew's Dallas Stars Page (1996-2012).
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2 Responses to Stars GM Jim Nill talks coaching change, coaching search, and more

  1. Bill Harter says:

    The old Andrew’s Dallas Stars group was fun. How old is Andrew? Married with children?


  2. Pingback: NHL Black Monday Roundup: L.A. Kings clean house – Sportblogg

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