Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Dallas Fires GM Doug Armstrong

Yesterday, the Dallas Stars fired GM Doug Armstrong. This is a surprise because Armstrong seemed to be doing a good enough job as Stars general manager. During his tenure as Stars GM (he was hired in 2002), Dallas has been the third winningest team in the NHL. They had not had much playoff success, having last won a playoff series in 2003, but they are still an above average team. At the time of his firing, Dallas's 7-10 record (with 3 losses counted as regulation ties) would have qualified for playoffs as eighth seed in the West Conference. One night of play since then has been enough to (temporarily) drop them from a playoff berth.

Armstrong has kept together most of the core that won the 1999 Stanley Cup that previous GM Bob Gainey put together and is still finding success with them. There are questions about what happens when this core (Marty Turco, Mike Modano, Sergei Zubov and Jere Lehtinen) become too old to compete, however that is not a problem yet. Armstrong has done a good job acquiring current top scorer Mike Ribiero for Janne Niinimaa, who is now out of the NHL. I would not have figured he was a GM who was in much risk of being fired.

It appears that owner Thomas Hicks got bored and wanted to exert his power so he made a big move despite the fact it was not needed. This is usually a poor move for an owner. The best plan is to find a good hockey man and let him run your team and stay out of his way. Armstrong has been doing a more than acceptable job.

Dallas has brought in Les Jackson and Brett Hull as co-interim GMs. The idea of co-GMs is a weird one. In event of disagreement, who makes the decision? Or is the idea to set up a bottleneck where nothing major gets done until a permanent GM can be found? If Dallas wanted a permanent GM, firing Armstrong during the season is a poor move. They would have been far smarter to have made the move last summer when more potential GMs were available for hire. Dallas does have former Los Angeles GM in their organization as director of player personnel. It is a surprise with a GM opening that they did not turn to him.

Les Jackson has been a good assistant GM in Dallas for many years. He gets a good portion of the credit for building their cup winning team. He had been considered as a potential GM for a few NHL franchises but never landed the job. He could be a solid Dallas GM given the chance. His problem is he is hampered with Brett Hull as his co-GM.

Brett Hull was a future Hall of Fame player but he has no further qualifications and he has a loud mouth that often gets him into trouble. He is a very poor choice to be GM.

Dallas made a surprise unnecessary move yesterday. They are no better for doing it and have likely made themselves worse. They would be better with Armstrong as GM. He was doing a good job. This co-GM situation is bound to lead to problems, especially given the fact one of them is unqualified.

Here is the TSN article on the move.

NOTE: Jim Lites is also out as president of the Dallas Stars. Presumably he disagrees with the recent Stars moves. Jeff Cogen is the new president. He had previously served as the president of baseball's Texas Rangers (who are also owned by Thomas Hicks). He is not a hockey man, but he has a sports management background. He will be replaced as the Texas Rangers president.

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