Why Stars’ GM handed NHL draft duties to Les Jackson



GM Nieuwendyk shakes it up by turning Stars’ draft over to JacksonThere might not be a less presumptuous person in the Stars’ organization than Les Jackson.

Having been with the team since its days in Minnesota (expect for a brief hiatus in Atlanta in the late ’90s and having served in positions ranging from assistant coach to co GM, it would be easy for the Stars director of player personnel to demand his say in important matters. Instead, Jackson often waits to be asked or defers to others.

Looking to shake up the amateur scouting department last fall, Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk fired director of amateur scouting Tim Bernhardt and handed much of the drafting responsibility to Jackson.

“I think it’s the area he enjoys the most, and I think it’s the area where he probably is best suited,” Nieuwendyk said. “His experience, his ability he’s one of the best in the league at preparing for a draft.”

Nieuwendyk didn’t want to get too deep into the reasons for firing Bernhardt, who had been with the team 18 years. “It was time for a change,” Nieuwendyk said. But he clearly felt that some of the mistakes of the past needed to be addressed.

Many have criticized the Stars for picking center/right wing Scott Glennie eighth overall in 2009, because they passed on defensemen such as , , and Dmitri Kulikov.

Glennie has played one NHL game, while Kulikov has logged 198 and Cowen 82. In 2010, Dallas surprisingly took goalie Jack Campbell, passing on highly rated defensemen again in and .

Now, there’s no telling how those picks will turn out over an NHL season, but it’s clear the Stars are pushing to be at the top of their game when it comes to the draft.

“It’s how you build a team, even more so in this age,” Nieuwendyk said. “You have to be able to acquire your top level players through the draft, because it costs too much to just try to buy them.”

Jackson concurs. He understands the importance of the draft and the importance of his job. Having sat in the GM’s chair, he knows all about tough calls.

“I’ve always taken it very seriously, and I’ve always done my best, but I do understand the importance,” Jackson said. “You need to be able to find players who will grow with your organization and who will form the backbone of your organization. That’s what we’re going to try to do.”

Ironically, the number of Stars’ prospects seem deeper Wholesale Jerseys China
than it has been in a while. Philip Larsen (149th in 2008) is an NHL player. Free agents and appear ready to push for an NHL position this season. (69th in 2009), Chiasson (38th in 2009) and Glennie (eighth in 2009) are knocking on the door. (41st in 2010) and (14th in 2011) are ahead of schedule.

So should the pressure be this heavy? Did the draft team really need a shakeup?

Nieuwendyk obviously felt it did. Now it’s up to Jackson to make this decision look good.

“We operate as a team, and we trust the work that our guys do in the field,” said Jackson, adding that the team doesn’t put that much emphasis on the recent combine because it’s a snapshot vs. hundreds of games of scouting accumulated over the year.

“So, yes, there does have to be one guy in the end who makes a final recommendation, but it’s not without tons of help and hours and hours of research.”

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