Dallas Stars fire coach Jim Montgomery
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Coach Jim Montgomery was fired by The Stars for “unprofessional conduct” on Tuesday morning, which ends his second season behind the bench. The team couldn’t disclose exactly the reason why Montgomery was dismissed.
In a press conference on Tuesday morning, Jim Nill – Stars general manager said that it was determined that there was a material act of unprofessionalism contrarian to the values and standards held by the Dallas Stars organization. Nill found out about the act via phone call over the weekend and on Sunday he began an internal investigation. He said he was the leadership of the team that time, and it was important to do the right thing. He added there was no criminal investigation and no current or former players were connected to the decision, separating Montgomery’s firing from a wave of abuse allegations against hockey coaches in recent weeks. “There are no other Stars employees involved in the incident”, Nill said.
The Stars called assistant coach Rick Bowness the interim head coach. Also, the organization promoted Texas Stars head coach Derek Laxdal to work as an assistant in Dallas, and then Texas assistant Neil Graham became the new Texas head coach.
Montgomery didn’t respond to a message asking for comment, and Stars CEO Jim Lites declined to comment as well. When being asked why he was unable to discuss the incident in question, Nill said that was out of respect for everyone involved.
Nill was asked whether he understood the confusion surrounding Montgomery’s firing, then he looked back at his prepared notes and responded that it was determined it was a material act of unprofessionalism, and that’s what happened. Meanwhile, the Stars players said they were not told what happened to Montgomery.
On the ice, the Stars did rebound from a 1-7-1 start with a 12-game point streak in November. They entered night’s game on Tuesday against New Jersey in the first wild card spot in the Western Conference. Nill said it was not based on on-ice performance to the decision to fire Montgomery. Montgomery had finished his Stars career with a 60-43-10 record.
The latest coach in Dallas is Bowness. There were 4 different coaches in the last 4 seasons, following Ken Hitchcock, Lindy Ruff and Montgomery. This will be the fourth time 64-year-old Bowness has replaced a coach during the season (2003-2004 in Phoenix, 1996-1997 with the Islanders, and 1988-1989 in Winnipeg).
Bowness will work with the forwards while his assistant – John Stevens will work with the defensemen. While Laxdal will be on the bench and run the power play, assistant Todd Nelson continues watching games from upstairs in the press box. And Bowness will continue to run the penalty kill. Bowness has been on staffs in Dallas, New York, Ottawa, Boston, Tampa Bay, Vancouver, Phoenix and Winnipeg over his 35-year coaching career. Bowness stated that the Stars would keep Montgomery’s style of play that prioritized defense.