Nill Looking for Every-Day Pros

Tuesday, 04.30.2013 / 6:26 PM
Mark Stepneski

On Monday, new Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill talked about bringing a culture change to the team, and on Tuesday, he started delivering that message to the players.

Nill met with players briefly in Frisco, and part of his talk was about expectations as the players head off into the summer months.

“The season is over and now we’re focused on moving forward for next year,” Nill said. “It’s about having a good summer, training hard and (we’ll) go from there.”

There wasn’t much talk about this past season, as that’s history and can’t be changed. It’s about the future, and what the Stars can do to be better next season.

“We are moving on, we are turning the page,” said defenseman Stephane Robidas. “Like he said in the meeting, we are not going to dwell on what happened last year, we’ve got to move forward. We want to get back in the playoffs. That’s the goal.”

Nill has talked about players becoming every-day professionals, and every-day includes the offseason. He outlined those expectations on Tuesday.

“He said as soon as you get home, you should be pushing for next year,” said defenseman Brenden Dillon. “That should be your thought process.”

“For guys to change their lifestyles a bit,” forward Jamie Benn said. “It’s all part of being a professional. We’re all done here now, but we’ve got to focus on getting in shape and being prepared for training camp next summer. There are really no days off in the summer, you’ve got to work hard and get yourself ready.”

Putting an emphasis on those lifestyle changes is important with a young team like the Stars, Nill said. He pointed to veterans on the team, particularly 40-year-old Ray Whitney, as role models for the younger players.

“Why are they still playing hockey? Because they are pros. They are every-day pros,” said Nill. “They come every day to the rink, they do the right things. When they leave the rink, they do the right things. They do that year after year, and that’s why they are still playing. We’ve got a young team here and these young guys need to learn that. It’s nothing against the young guys, it’s a learning process. The quicker they learn it, the better off they are going to be.”

And Nill said he hopes the hard work over the summer will pay dividends at the beginning of next season. He said a strong start to 2013-14 is key, and he was delivering that message as the dust was just beginning to settle on the 2012-13 campaign.

“One emphasis I made is it is important to have a great start to the season,” Nill said. “The way the standings work with the three-point system, if you get behind early, it’s too hard to make up ground. It’s important to have a great start and we want to be one of those teams that you don’t have to be worrying about the playoffs come March.”

Tuesday’s meeting was brief, but Nill mapped out his expectations and set goals.

“He knows what he wants. He wants to be a winner,” said Dillon. “He wants that culture to start today. I think that’s something that is going to be exciting for us. It’s been five years that Dallas hasn’t made the playoffs, and that is what you are measured by. It’s winning, not just personally, but as a team. We’ve got a good group of guys here, and it should be exciting moving forward.”

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