Jim Nill paid his dues.
And it all paid off for him Monday.
After spending 15 years as an assistant general manager in Detroit, Nill was named the GM of the Dallas Stars.
“Obviously, it’s a huge loss but I’m thrilled for Jimmy,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “He’s paid his dues. He’s waited for an opportunity. I think at the end of the day you look at Steve Yzerman, Don Waddell, Paul MacLean, Todd McLellan, part of the reason we’ve been able to have success is we’ve been able to have people here that have made us better. They then had an opportunity to go elsewhere to fulfill professional dreams they couldn’t fill here.”
Nill, who had been in the Wings’ organization for 19 years, signed a five-year deal with the Stars.
“When you’ve committed as long a time as Jim has and helped us have the success, he’s deserved the opportunity, if he wants to go elsewhere, he deserves the opportunity to go,” Holland said. “It’s a general manager’s position, he gets to run his own team. Absolutely it’s a big loss but we’ve had lots of big losses. Ultimately, it’s somebody else’s opportunity. We got to find a way to develop people. We’ll figure something out in the next month or two how we go forward.”
Yzerman is the GM in Tampa Bay, while MacLean (Ottawa) and McLellan (San Jose) are both head coaches.
“Over the last six or seven years every time there’s been a job opening the team has called to ask for permission,” Holland said. “Every time they’d call I go to him and say the call has come. He negotiated for a long time a contract that didn’t allow him to go and he was OK with it. But the last go round he negotiated an out clause which told me he was more open to leaving.
“At the end of the day, his kids are older,” Holland added. “When your kids are younger you want to have stability.”
Nill turned down the Montreal GM job last summer because of family reasons. He’s also interviewed for GM jobs with Calgary and Toronto.
Holland would like to have his replacement in place by the NHL Entry Draft, June 29.
Holland mentioned Ryan Martin, the team’s assistant general manager of hockey administration, and Kris Draper, who’s a special advisor.
“We’ve got some people internally that can pick up some of the responsibility that he had,” Holland said.