I was just minding my own business on a nice Sunday afternoon, when I get a call from one of my peeps inside the Dallas Stars organization to tell me about the big news of the day; Joey Nieuwendyk is now the Stars General Manager.
Wow. We certainly didn't hear this was about to go down, now did we? It would appear the Stars have made a major move without anyone sniffing it out at all. Impressive.
But, why is this move being made? If I thought they would do anything this summer, it would be to end the very odd Co-GM setup from last season, and choose Les Jackson, most likely, to head the personnel department all by himself. I was getting the idea that the Hull-Jackson arrangement was not going to last much longer, but I guess I just assumed they would pick from the 2 (you know, they might pick the one who didn't recommend the Sean Avery signing).
Today, everyone will put on the brave faces and say the right things like they did with Mike Heika in the morning news, but I have to think that Les Jackson is disappointed. To help engineer the Brad Richards trade, to help put the young blue-line in place, to over-see the most successful playoff run since 2000, and then to be snake-bit with the injuries of Brenden Morrow, Sergei Zubov, and Brad Richards in 2009 - only to pay for that with your job - seems a bit of a tough break to me.
Of course, maybe Jackson wanted the move to be made (I cannot rule that out). And maybe Hull is fine with going back to a less out-front job, but the timing and circumstances are a bit difficult to understand.
Now, with Nieuwendyk, you are getting a guy who is willing to grind and do the job 18 hours a day. With all due respect to my guy, Hull, it did appear at times that he did not care for the absurd hours the job calls for. Nieuwendyk, however, seems to enjoy the tons of scouting, watching, travelling, and grinding to find the unearthed talents in the hockey world. I have personally seen him roll through town as he is examining players while working on the job in Florida and Toronto. Being a GM is not a part-time job, and Joe is a guy who seems very much fine with that.
I hope he is ready to hit the ground running. He has plenty on his plate. He has the #8 pick in the draft to consider (I will be offering you some thoughts on that as we get closer) and he has the future of 2 of his former teammates to decide: Zubov and Jere Lehtinen. He must also decide whether to keep the entire coaching staff intact, and let's not forget any additions that should be made, but I would assume the petty cash drawer is empty this summer at Hicks, Inc.
Regardless, this move was off-my-radar, but I am pleasantly interested. I think having one voice in the organization is what should have been happening all along. The question will soon become whether this is the right voice. I think he has a great chance of being the right guy.
Various other items for MGM:
* Yesterday was not a great time for Ian Kinsler at the plate late in the game. He had a few high leverage moments where the game might have been different if he could have come through against the A's. His strikeout in the 7th and his groundout into a double play in the 9th certainly appeared to frustrate the Rangers 2nd baseman and of course, the DP ended the final rally. For some reason, when watching Ian at the plate, I started to get this theory in my head that he is lacking patience more and more. He appears to swing at the first pitch, and of course, my deduction is that this is bad. Well, then I looked at the stats, and I will stop worrying about Kinsler swinging with a 0-0 count. On the first pitch, Kinsler is hitting .485 this season (16-33). The other guy who swings at the first pitch a ton for the Rangers is Josh Hamilton. But, since he hits .348 on the first pitch, I suppose I should stop being so worried about this trend.
* The Stanley Cup Finals gained my attention this weekend - thanks to the NBA disappointing weekend - and I was center-of-the-couch for hockey. If you don't know, I don't care for the Red Wings at all, so once the Stars are eliminated from the mix, my rooting interests turn to just cheering against Detroit. It is a painful process, because I repeatedly believe that someone can give them a run for their money. Silly me. The Red Wings, even depleted by injury, withstood some big Penguins surges, and emerged victorious in Games 1 and 2. Now, if you want the Penguins to win, you have to figure out how to win 4 out of 5 games over the rest of the series. Good luck. Betting against Detroit is like betting against the casinos winning their share.
We did get this gem: Geno Malkin beats on Henrik Zetterberg late in the game.
* I don't mean to make this about me, but one of the coolest things that has ever happened to me was unveiled on Friday night, when NFL Films debuted the "10 Greatest Dallas Cowboys of All-Time" special on the NFL Network. Sure, the show is about Roger and Troy, Emmitt and Tony, Landry and Lilly, but some of the guys at the Ticket (George, Craig, Rhynes, Norm, and me!) were asked to participate, and it was with great joy that I answered their questions hoping I could make the final cut. Total face time? Eh, about 14 seconds. But NFL Films Immortality! And the question I was asked a few times this weekend: What did it pay? Not a penny. I wouldn't have accepted anything. For a football dork like me, NFL Films is like an actor getting a chance at Broadway. I am very pleased. I can die in peace, now.
To see cool Cowboys stuff, watch the whole thing. To see a goofy sports dork, go to 7:55 on this cut:
* So now what are we going to do without Lebron puppet? Put it next to Dan versus Dave . I was certainly hoping that Cleveland could figure it out on Saturday night, but at the end of that series, we must only conclude that Orlando is the better team. If you are Mike Brown, NBA Coach of the Year, I would not rule out the idea of being fired. It is a tough world, but with LeBron 1 year from total free agency, I would imagine Cleveland will do whatever it takes to please King James. I still don't think he is going anywhere next summer, because part of the "superstar" blue-print is to stay with the same team all the way through your career. You don't jump when you can.
Michael Jordan won his first title in his age-27 season , which was also his 7th season in the NBA. LeBron just completed season #6, but it is merely his age-24 season . Something tells me he will eventually get it done.
* NBA Finals Schedule:
Game 1: Thursday June 4: Orlando at L.A. Lakers
Game 2: Sunday June 7: Orlando at L.A. Lakers
Game 3: Tuesday June 9: L.A. Lakers at Orlando
Game 4: Thursday June 11: L.A. Lakers at Orlando
Game 5: Sunday June 14: L.A. Lakers at Orlando (if necessary)
Game 6: Tuesday June 16: Orlando at L.A. Lakers (if necessary)
Game 7: Thursday June 18: Orlando at L.A. Lakers (if necessary)