DALLAS – Brett Hull is once again in an important position at a crucial time for the Dallas Stars.
Hull and Les Jackson were both made interim co-general managers of the Stars after the team fired Doug Armstrong on Tuesday.
Armstrong, the Stars’ general manager since 2002, was let go after a disappointing 7-7 start following a third straight exit in the first round of the playoffs. He left team headquarters in suburban Frisco without comment.
“I thought that the team needed a change in direction,” Dallas owner Tom Hicks said in a statement. “I know that change can be healthy, and it was my determination that this move needed to be made.”
Hull, who won the Stanley Cup for the Stars with a controversial goal in Game 6 of the 1999 finals against Buffalo, has worked in the Dallas front office since last season. Jackson was the assistant GM.
Hicks said the two “are the right people to provide direction, vision, management and guidance that get this team positioned to win another division crown.”
Armstrong’s firing came three days after the Stars blew a four-goal lead in the third period and lost 6-5 in overtime to the Los Angeles Kings.
The 43-year-old had been with the Stars for 17 years, serving as assistant general manager when the Stars won the Cup. He was promoted the same day the Stars fired former coach Ken Hitchcock, and one of his first moves as GM was hiring coach Dave Tippett in 2002.
Armstrong’s contract ran through the 2010-11 season, and Tippett’s is up after this season.
Stars captain Brenden Morrow said the team sensed a change was imminent.
“I don’t know if it’s shocking,” Morrow said. “It’s unfortunate it had to come to that. It’s something we didn’t get done on the ice.”
Under Armstrong, the Stars could never seem to extend their regular-season success into the playoffs. Despite having the third-most wins (190) in the NHL since 2002, the Stars have not advanced past the first round since reaching the Western Conference semifinals in 2003.
The Stars lost 4-1 in the first round to Colorado in 2004 and again in 2006, when Dallas finished the regular season as the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference.
The Stars lost in seven games last season to Vancouver after entering the playoffs as the No. 6 seed.
“If you like it here, if this is where you want to play, you’ve got to play well,” defenceman Philippe Boucher said. “They made one change, and who knows now?”
Armstrong’s successes included keeping some of the Stars’ biggest names under contract in the post-lockout era of NHL salary caps. Goalie Marty Turco signed a $22.8-million, four-year deal in 2006, and forward Mike Modano signed a five-year deal after turning down chances at more lucrative deals with Chicago or Boston.
The 43-year-old Hull retired in 2005 after 19 seasons, including three in Dallas, and his 741 goals ranks third in NHL history.
Jackson has worked his way up through the Stars’ front office over 20 years, spending the last seven as assistant GM.
The Stars scheduled a press conference for Wednesday to introduce Hull and Jackson as the co-GM. Their next game is Wednesday night at home against San Jose.