Dallas Stars head coach Jim Montgomery has been fired. Rick Bowness, who had been the assistant coach in charge of the defense on Montgomery’s staff, will serve as the interim coach at this time.
General manager Jim Nill released this statement with the announcement:
“The Dallas Stars expect all of our employees to act with integrity and exhibit professional behavior while working for and representing our organization. This decision was made due to unprofessional conduct inconsistent with the core values and beliefs of the Dallas Stars and the National Hockey League.”
Earlier this season, when the Stars started the season on a 1-7-1 skid, it appeared that Montgomery was on the hot seat. His team then went on a 13-2-1 stretch, and most assumed that he was out of the woods.
However, the landscape of coaching in the NHL has changed over the past couple of weeks.
First, there were some details leaked about Mike Babcock making Mitch Marner list his teammates in order of how hard they worked. That then sparked some revelations of Bill Peters, then head coach of the Calgary Flames, hurling racist slurs and physical abuse behind the bench in some of his previous stops. It led to his eventual resignation after the organization conducted an investigation into his actions.
The NHL Board of Governors met this weekend, and released details on how they will be attempting to change the culture of coaching in the league, including training and systems put in place to protect whistleblowers reporting issues (whether anonymously or named).
It’s not fair to speculate what caused the Stars to make this decision today, though the timing is a little coincidental considering everything that has come out lately across the league. Jim Nill is not the type of guy to make changes to for the sake of making decisions. He is a man known for having a strong moral compass and values integrity and character in his employees, staff, and players.
Nill is scheduled to meet the media at 11 a.m. today according to Matt DeFranks, and we’ll update as more details come out.
UPDATE: Pierre Lebrun says that Montgomery’s firing is “unrelated to the NHL’s plan”:
I’m told the NHL was aware of the situation with Jim Montgomery even before Gary Bettman met the media here last night to announce the league’s 4-point plan, but that Montgomery’s dismissal does not fall under the auspices of that plan. Not related to it apparently.— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) December 10, 2019