The Dallas Stars made the news official on Sunday, announcing the morning after another playoff-less season ended that GM Joe Nieuwendyk would not be returning.
The news was expected after multiple reports of his dismissal came down on the Saturday just before the Stars played the Red Wings in the season finale. An announcement was made by team owner Tom Gaglardi on Sunday morning.
"Joe Nieuwendyk has represented the Dallas Stars extremely well as the club's General Manager and has helped put pieces in place that will once again turn this team into a contender," said Gaglardi. "I would like to thank Joe for his contributions to this hockey club and wish him and his family only the best in the future.
"However, I believe it is time to take this organization in a different direction with our intentions set on returning to the elite of the National Hockey League. My commitment to the Dallas Stars is unwavering, and I am confident we have found the right General Manager to return us to the pathway of success."
For Nieuwendyk's teams, it was the same story every year: close, but not close enough. The Stars have been stuck in that perpetual land of being close enough to have meaningful games almost to the end but not quite good enough to reach the playoffs. All told, they have missed out on the postseason five straight years, four of those under Nieuwendyk's command.
The lack of playoffs and the trade that sent James Neal and Matt Niskanan to Pittsburgh for Alex Goligoski will likely be what he's remembered for most from his GM days. But he also started a minor rebuilding this season and brought in a pretty good crop of prospects for the franchise to move forward with.
As a player, Nieuwendyk helped the Stars win the Stanley Cup in 1998-99, earning the Conn Smythe Trophy for his efforts. He was recently inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.