It took longer than expected, but it’s official: the Dallas Stars have named Rick Bowness as the 24th head coach in franchise history.
Bowness was first named as the team’s interim head coach when the team parted ways with Jim Montgomery early in the 2019-20 NHL season. The team had its ups and downs in the months that followed, but they ultimately made the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs as one of the four round-robin teams for the Western Conference.
It was in the playoffs that Bowness truly began to shine. He led the Stars to the Stanley Cup Final for just the third time since the franchise relocated to Dallas, upsetting Cup favorites such as the Colorado Avalanche and the Vegas Golden Knights in the process. The Stars almost managed to complete the feat for a third time before ultimately falling to the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games.
But perhaps more impressive than Bowness’ accomplishments on the ice is the type of person he is off of it. Bowness constantly preached the importance of mental health for his players, which proved more important than ever given how they were spending the postseason quarantined in the Edmonton bubble. Bowness was widely reported as a coach who treated his players like people first and hockey players second, doing whatever he could to help them deal the extra stress of the playoff bubble.
The end result was that Bowness cultivated a room full of players ready to run through a brick wall for him. Several players have commented that Bowness has been the best coach they’ve ever played for, and he is adored by his players past and present with few (if any) exceptions:
The terms of Bowness’s contract have not been disclosed, but it was previously reported that it would be a multi-year deal. That would make a lot of sense given not only Bowness’ success this past postseason, but also the frequent coaching turnover in Dallas recently, as Bowness was the team’s fourth head coach in as many seasons last year.
Update: the Stars have announced that the contract term is two years.
Now that Bowness has officially returned, his mission is simple: bring the Stanley Cup back to Dallas. The team was two wins away in 2020; Bowness’s next goal, whenever the 2021 season starts, is to find a way for the Stars to win all 16 games.