Rumblings return: Gainey goes west

The Dallas Stars have brought back a familiar name to their front office: Bob Gainey has agreed to join the NHL club as a consultant.

"I think it’s good thing for the organization and it’s a good thing for everybody involved," Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk told ESPN.com Thursday.

Stars president Jim Lites confirmed the move Wednesday, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Gainey spent 12 years with the Stars organization in both Minnesota and Dallas as coach and later as GM. He was GM of the 1999 Stanley Cup-champion Stars, with Nieuwendyk as one of his key players.

"Bob is a well-respected guy in our town and within our organization," Nieuwendyk told ESPN.com. "He’ll be an adviser not only to myself but also to Jim on the business side. I think he’s going to be valuable to everybody.’’

Gainey, who went back to Montreal to be GM from 2003-09, was an adviser to Pierre Gauthier in Montreal the past few years. But Gainey parted ways with the Habs the same day Gauthier was fired as GM.

The Stars jumped at the chance to bring Gainey back.

"Talks intensified with Bob after that," Nieuwendyk said.

Gainey will still be based in Montreal. He also has a place in Florida.

Lidstrom update

There is still no decision from seven-time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom on his future, not that the Red Wings are expecting one for a while longer.

"I don’t really need to know until the middle of June,’’ Red Wings GM Ken Holland told ESPN.com Thursday.

"I saw him on the weekend," added Holland. "But we didn’t really touch on it. I’m letting him go through whatever process he needs to go through to make a decision."

The Wings obviously want to know before the June draft so they can react either way in terms of trade talks.

Meanwhile, veteran top-four blueliner Brad Stuart will also be an unrestricted free agent July 1. There has been talk that he might want to return to the West Coast due to family reasons (he still has a home in San Jose), but Detroit is keeping the door open to re-sign him if he chooses to return.

"I told Stuey, 'Go home, take a month with your family'; told his agent I would talk to him prior to the draft,’’ Holland said.

My guess is, if the San Jose Sharks have any interest in bringing back Stuart -- he began his career there -- and they make him a reasonable offer, he could be in San Jose next season.

Personnel compensation

A subject that just won’t go away when talking to team executives around the league is the desire by some to revive team compensation for lost front-office personnel, which I wrote about on March 7. In conversations with executives over the past week, the topic has crept up again, with Marc Bergevin leaving the Blackhawks to become Montreal’s GM. Bergevin then approached Toronto about hiring Rick Dudley from their front office.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman abolished compensation for teams that allowed front-office personnel to join other teams in the wake of Peter Chiarelli’s controversial departure from Ottawa to Boston in 2006. The commish was tired of being dragged into debates between organizations about what form of compensation was fair in those cases. And I don’t blame Bettman for that.

One GM I spoke with last week said the solution lies in standardizing the compensation so that the league doesn’t have to play a role in any transaction of team personnel.

"So, for example, to me, if you lose someone from your organization and he either becomes a head coach or a GM elsewhere, you get a second-round pick," said the GM. "That’s across the board, no arguing. And if you lose someone so that he joins another team to become an assistant GM or an assistant coach, it’s a fourth-round pick. Something like that. The team that comes calling you looking to hire one of your guys knows ahead of time what compensation is in play."

It’s a topic for NHL governors and owners to bring up if they choose, but my sense is the league still has zero appetite to open that door again.

"I don't anticipate this matter being on the board agenda in June -- or at any time in the near future," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN.com via email Thursday. "It has been raised and discussed at the board level several times now in recent years, and there has not been an appetite to change our current policy.''