Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill, who in his first season running the organization engineered a series of moves that ended a five-year postseason drought for the Stars, will be featured in the next episode of FOX Sports Southwest’s IN MY OWN WORDS set to premiere on Friday, June 13 at 10:00 p.m. CT.
The 30-minute interview-style show hosted by FOX Sports Southwest Stars anchor Ali Lucia goes up close with Nill as he discusses his first year on the job, how he helped change the culture of the team, and what needs to be done to continue the momentum into next season.
Nill was hired as the Stars’ general manager in April 2013 after spending 19 seasons as a member of the Detroit Red Wings management team, the last 15 as the team’s assistant general manager. During his tenure in Detroit the Red Wings had more wins than any other NHL franchise, won four Stanley Cups and never missed the playoffs.
In his first role as a general manager, Nill quickly stamped his mark on the Stars and returned the team to playoff contention.
The remarkable turnaround spearheaded by Nill included hiring coach Lindy Ruff, drafting talented right winger Valeri Nichushkin, and pulling off a blockbuster trade with Boston that landed the Stars young superstar Tyler Seguin.
Nill explains the moves and his winning philosophy in the FOX Sports Southwest special.
IN MY OWN WORDS features well-known local sports personalities sharing memories and personal stories of their careers told in a conversation format. Each episode is a first person, personal journey in the subject’s own words telling the story of their life in the public eye. Video, photos and newspaper headlines highlight the conversation.
Following are excerpts from the Nill episode:
On hiring head coach Lindy Ruff: “I know it’s the best decision I ever made. If you see us around you probably think we’re two old farmers. We’re almost identical. We think the same way and have the same family values. Much like myself he was in Buffalo for 17 years, had a lot of highs and lows, and he changed himself. I came here and I knew I had to change the way I operate. He did the same thing.”
On the resiliency of the team: “There were lots of opportunities this season when the train could have gone off the tracks, and it almost did a few times. Between the players and the coaching staff, they got it back on the rails and we made the playoffs and we were an exciting team to watch in the playoffs.”
On what the team learned from the playoffs: “I think they learned a couple of things. They earned it. There were some battles during the year. It looked like they were going the wrong way at times and they fought through that. I think that prepared them for the run to get into the playoffs. Then they got in the playoffs and realized how close they were to advancing…how close, but how far. We were one overtime from going to a game seven and maybe moving on. We still have work to do. We’re a young team, and it will be a challenge for us to get back to that same level next year, but I know our guys will do it.”
On the team’s character: “It’s a special dressing room. We’ve got a good mix of young guys. They’re all character guys. They like to know when it’s time to work. The veterans have fit in well and they’ve led the way. They grab some of the young guys by the ear when they need to be grabbed by the ear, and they give them a little pat on the back when they need a pat on the back. It’s a special dressing room.”
On instilling family values within the franchise: “I think it’s the key to all our success down the road here. What are we without family? That’s how I grew up, it was about family. I was fortunate to get into an organization like Detroit that was about family. That’s something I want to do here in Dallas and we’re doing that.”
On the future of the franchise: “I’m very excited. We’re watching (AHL affiliate) Texas playing in the Calder Cup finals. I know we have some great pieces coming, and then we have a great foundation here. Our best players are our youngest players. We’ve got some players down in Texas that are 22, 23, then I look here and Tyler Seguin is 22, Jamie Benn is 24, and the core of our team is all the same age. To have success in the league you need to come up as a group, and you need to learn how to win and they’re doing that in Texas. So when we combine those two factors of these two teams and all the depth coming up, it’s exciting for us moving forward.”
IIN MY OWN WORDS: JIM NILL PROGRAM SCHEDULE
(All times listed are Central. Schedule subject to change)
• Friday, June 13, 10:00 p.m.
• Saturday, June 14, 11:00 a.m.
• Tuesday, June 17, 12:30 a.m.
• Thursday, June 19, 9:30 a.m.
• Saturday, June 21, 9:30 p.m.
• Monday, June 23, 3:30 p.m.
• Wednesday, June 25, 11:00 p.m.
• Sunday, June 29, 10:00 p.m.
• Thursday, July 3, 9:30 p.m.
• Friday, July 4, 8:30 a.m.
• Tuesday, July 8, 5:00 p.m.
• Thursday, July 10 11:00 p.m.
• Sunday, July 13, 5:30 p.m.
• Tuesday, July 15, 6:30 p.m.