Stars give co-GMs Hull, Jackson new three-year contracts

DALLAS -- Stars owner Tom Hicks decided his co-general manager experiment was working. So it's not an experiment anymore.

The team said Thursday that retired NHL great Brett Hull and longtime executive Les Jackson have signed three-year contracts, removing the interim tag they've shared since Hicks made the unusual move in November.

After Hull and Jackson replaced the fired Doug Armstrong, Dallas went on its longest playoff run since 2000. The Stars' season ended Monday with a 4-1 loss to Detroit in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals.

Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Hicks says the two work well together because Jackson brings the analytical approach bred from more than 20 years as a Stars scout and executive, while Hull offers unconventional wisdom and fosters a strong relationship with the players.

"This unique combination of talents gives us many advantages for our hockey club," Hicks said in a statement. "Signing Les and Brett to these contracts provides stability for the future."

Hull and Jackson were in charge when the Stars made one of the biggest trades at the deadline, getting center Brad Richards from Tampa Bay in a five-player deal. Probably the most significant player the Stars gave up was backup goalie Mike Smith, who was stuck behind Marty Turco.

Dallas wanted to add a scorer with some playoff success after going five years without escaping the first round of the playoffs. Richards, the playoff MVP when the Lightning won the Stanley Cup in 2004, ended up tied for second in playoff scoring for the Stars with 15 points.

Richards and center Mike Ribeiro, another scoring leader who signed a long-term deal after Hull and Jackson took over, are in their 20s and locked up for years to come.

The Stars also had several young defensemen emerge during their surprising playoff run, which started with the ouster of defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim. Dallas, the fifth seed, then eliminated second-seeded San Jose.

"We think the same way," Hull said in trying to explain why the co-GM role has worked. "He is the ultimate gentleman, and anybody who can't get along with Les, you're in big trouble. Mostly it's the self-confidence we have in ourselves and the confidence we have in each other that makes it real easy."

Hull said the team's first priority would be signing coach Dave Tippett to an extension. Tippett was heavily criticized through repeated first-round failures, but Hull gave him a vote of confidence not long after the co-GM arrangement was announced.

"I don't think it's going to be very difficult to get done," Hull said.