Stars GM Nill gets 5-year contract extension

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — General manager Jim Nill has been given a five-year contract extension from the Western Conference-leading Dallas Stars, who are off to the best start in franchise history.

The extension announced Friday goes through the 2022-23 season. Nill is only halfway through the five-year contract he got when he became the Stars GM in April 2013, after the team had missed the playoffs five consecutive seasons.

“In just over two years, Jim has helped instill a culture of excellence within our organization and extending that partnership to 2022-23 is vital for the direction of the hockey club,” owner Tom Gaglardi said. “From the day he stepped into this role, he has displayed tremendous decision-making in the re-tooling of our group and we’re excited to build upon the foundation that has been laid.”

The 57-year-old Nill hired veteran coach Lindy Ruff, and has since dramatically reshaped the Stars roster with a series of trades and acquisitions. Before coming to Dallas, Nill spent 15 years as an assistant GM with the Detroit Red Wings, a team that hasn’t missed the playoffs since 1990.

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One of Nill’s key early moves was a seven-player deal with Boston that first summer that brought young standout center Tyler Seguin. The Stars traded for center Jason Speeza in 2014 offseason, then last summer traded for three-time Stanley Cup champion Patrick Sharp while signing free agent defenseman Johnny Oduya and goaltender Antti Niemi.

Seguin and Jamie Benn are tied for the NHL lead with 24 goals each, and were selected NHL All-Stars this season. Ruff will coach the Central Division during All-Star weekend.

“I’ve said over and over again, just how special of a group we have here in Dallas, and developing and maintaining a winning organization is something I look forward to over the next seven years,” Nill said. “My wife, Bekki, and I love the area and we truly call it our home.”

The Stars are 29-10 with four overtime losses this season, for a West-leading 62 points. They are 110-72-25 overall since Nill was hired.

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Dallas beat Winnipeg 2-1 in a shootout Thursday night to end a three-game losing streak, the first time the Stars had lost consecutive games this season. They had the NHL’s best record before that.

“Jim Nill was on everyone’s short list for a long time and being able to hire to him to lead the hockey department was monumental for the Dallas Stars,” said team President Jim Lites, who in his first stint with the Stars was part of their 1999 Stanley Cup championship and their return to the final the next season. “He’s brought a stability to our franchise.”