The NHL’s trade deadline came and went with the Dallas Stars raising another “NO MAS” flag on what will be another playoff-less season.
The Stars made four trades before the deadline. The Stars are seven points out of the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference with less than 20 games remaining. Translation - they are not getting in.
While a Stars source said head coach Lindy Ruff will not return, general manager Jim Nill is safe. And yet the state of this team is nearly entirely on his shoulders.
This will be the second time since Nill was hired in April of 2013 the team did not make the postseason. Since the spring of 2009, the Stars will have missed the playoffs in seven of nine seasons.
The former long time assistant to Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, Nill had been regarded as a great GM in waiting. He had been waiting for the right job. The idea was he would remake whatever team he did inherit into a version of the great Red Wings teams he and Holland built.
He has been given the money to spend, but the results are maddeningly mediocre.
Since Nill arrived he has made tremendous additions - the trade for Boston forward Tyler Seguin is Holland’s finest acquisition. The trade for Ottawa center Jason Spezza was a nice move as was the deal for Patrick Sharp.
Nill decision to draft talented forward Valeri Nichushkin and put him on the Stars immediately was a Red Wings-like move. But that didn’t work out, as Val was homesick and he returned home.
Nill inherited the terrible contract for goalie Kari Lehtonen, but Nill did not improve the situation in net with the addition of veteran Antti Niemi.
Basically, the problems the Stars had before Nill arrived remain: their defense is barely average and they don’t have a goalie good enough to clean it up.
But what Nill has is what every employee in these situations crave — his boss believes in him and likes him. Stars owner Tom Gaglardi hired Nill and he’s not about to fire him, even if the results stink.