The move was made after the Stars went 36-35-11 this season and failed to qualify for the NHL's Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2002.
"We are very excited to secure Joe Nieuwendyk as the general manager," team owner Tom Hicks said. "These moves are all about helping this club take the proverbial 'next step.' Joe is a leader and has been a winner in everything he has done. He is ready for this opportunity and has a bright future. We want that future to be with the Dallas Stars."
Nieuwendyk played for the Stars from December 1995 to March 2002. He played on Stanley Cup-winning teams in Dallas, Calgary and New Jersey.
After he retired in 2006, he was a special assistant for the Florida Panthers under General Manager Jacques Martin, and served in a similar post for the Toronto Maple Leafs last season.