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Dallas Stars Daily Links: How Rick Bowness Leveled Up In 2020

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The former assistant coach rose to the challenge, and to a new career high, in 2020. Plus, Mark Parrish’s road back from addiction, the making of the 2021 World Juniors, and more.

Dallas Stars v Vegas Golden Knights - Game Five Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images

If we look really hard, we can all find ways in which 2020 wasn’t entirely a “hold my beer” response to a remarkably awful 2019. And for those of us who watch them closely, the Dallas Stars provided several moves and moments that put a little joy into a singularly joyless year.

One of those, surely, was the emergence of Rick Bowness as a viable and effective head coach – and that has landed him on ESPN’s list of “NHL People Who Leveled Up In 2020.”

Bowness took over as a reluctant bench boss after the job was essentially thrust upon him in December 2019. The Stars wanted a steady presence who could keep the cart in the road and maybe, hopefully, get them to the postseason. Greg Wyshynski writes about what they got instead:

He turned out to be much more than that. Bowness tweaked the Dallas system, which was defense-first, to allow for more offense from his defensemen. That juiced the Stars’ scoring in the playoffs. He managed and motivated the team’s emotions during a postseason run to the Stanley Cup Final.

The year started with Bowness as a Band-Aid, a temporary fix until general manager Jim Nill went out and hired someone like Gerard Gallant to take over the bench. It continued with the league’s oldest bench boss (65) coaching in the restarted season despite being in a high-risk category for COVID-19, and coaching through the mental strain of bubble life, to lead the Stars to the Western Conference title. The year ended with Rick Bowness as the official new head coach of the Dallas Stars on a multiyear deal. Quite a ride.

The full story is behind the ESPN+ paywall and includes reflections on hockey heroes from Matt Dumba to Victor Hedman to Kendall Coyne Schofield. Check it out, if you can. [ESPN+]


Stars Stuff

The Stars are expanding their outreach to local kids with their first Learn to Play event just for girls. Aspiring players from the ages of 4 to 9 are eligible.

It’s been a while since The Athletic ran a Stars survey. Saad Yousuf, who’s just taken the lead on the Stars beat, says it’s time.

By the way, in case you missed it: Sean Shapiro will be around, he just won’t be around. Well done, Sean.

Around The Leagues

The challenge of making the World Juniors got even steeper during these pandemic days. Martin Merk has details.

But Stars prospects Thomas Harley and Mavrik Bourque have met every challenge so far.

“I’m tired of being uncomfortable around people.” The details of former Star Mark Parrish’s recovery from alcohol addiction are excruciating, but you need to read them.

Finally

The late Gordie Howe loved Christmas. So his family has put him at the center of their celebration – literally. Enjoy.