New Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill has only been on the job for a day, but he’s already making changes.
At noon Tuesday, Nill held his first meeting with the team at the Dr Pepper StarsCenter as players wrapped up their end-of-season duties.
Nill’s message to the team was that even though the season has ended, there is no time for an extended vacation.
“We’re here to win, that’s the bottom line,” Nill told the media. “We’re going to work on that. They’re going to go back and train hard and be ready.”
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Nill already has the respect of the Stars because of the success he helped create during 20 years in Detroit’s front office, the last 15 as assistant general manager.
“It’s all a part of being a professional,” Stars center Jamie Benn said. “We’re done here now, so we have to focus on working out and getting in shape for training camp at the end of the summer. There’s really no days off. During the summer you have to work hard, too.”
Among the major decisions facing Nill will be the future of Stars coach Glen Gulutzan.
“If you look at the deadline, all the hockey experts said it was going to be a tough month for the Stars,” defenseman Stephane Robidas said. “But we certainly went the other way. They stayed positive and prepared us very well and it showed on the ice.”
Gulutzan met with Nill on Monday and said he plans to meet with him again next week to discuss his future with the organization. Nill said he will continue to meet with all the players individually over the next three or four days.
“I have a job to do and until I’m told otherwise I’m going to continue, and right now it’s about the players,” Gulutzan said. “We have to make sure we send these guys away with a message and make sure they are training and getting ready for next season. That doesn’t stop for me, that’s part of my job.”
Several Stars players revealed injuries that plagued them throughout the end of the season, including Jamie Benn.
A wrist injury hampered Benn’s ability to shoot to the point that he was taking injections every other game through the last weeks of the season.
“Behind the scenes, the guy’s getting injections every day to just play, never mind playing against the best players and score,” Gulutzan said. “He couldn’t shoot a puck for the last six weeks.”
Benn said it wasn’t as hampering as Gulutzan let on.
“I was out there playing and shooting pucks, so that didn’t affect me at all,” Benn said.
Among the others who finished the season with aliments were Trevor Daily, Alex Goligoski and Ray Whitney.
Five Stars will participate in the world championships in Sweden and Finland during the first weeks of May, including Loui Eriksson, Antoine Roussel, Philip Larsen, Stephane Robidas and Brenden Dillon.
For Dillon, it will be his first chance to realize every Canadian boy’s dream of pulling on the red sweater of Team Canada. The honor is something Gulutzan, a Canadian, struggled to put into words.
“I’ve been here in Texas long enough to know it’s [a dream] to play for the Longhorns or the Cowboys or something of that nature, but in Canada it’s one thing — to put on that jersey,” he said.