TRAVERSE CITY — A familiar face to local hockey aficionados has been a regular presence at the NHL Prospect Tournament this week.
Only in a much different role.
Jim Nill, who had served in the Detroti Red Wings front office since 1994, is back at Centre ICE arena wearing a Dallas Stars jacket.
The Stars plucked Nill from Detroit and announced him as their general manager on April 30 in a move USA Today hockey writer Kevin Allen called "the managerial equivalent of landing the best player available in the free agent marketplace."
For Nill, it was both a promotion and an opportunity he couldn't refuse.
"It's been great," Nill said. "We've got a great staff down there, some great, young kids. I'm just anxious to get the season going."
"It's a big change. It's all change. I'm coming from a great organization. I've been lucky I've been in an organization that has done it right all these years — and I've learned from that. That's what I'm trying to create in Dallas. I've got a lot of work to do. And if I can have a quarter of the success they've had here, I'll be happy."
The Stars are 14 years away from their first — and only — Stanley Cup win in the 1998-99 season.
Dallas hasn't made the playoffs since 2007-08 — when they were eliminated by Nill's Red Wings in six games in the conference finals — and have finished fifth in the Pacific Division in three of the last four years.
"I've been taught by some great people here," Nill said. "I've learned from some great people. And we've had success here. I'm trying to create that same environment and winning attitude. That's my goal. I'm taking what I've learned here and trying to replicate that in Dallas."