Dallas Stars fire Jim Montgomery for unprofessional conduct
The Dallas Stars fired second-year coach Jim Montgomery on Tuesday for what the team called unprofessional conduct.
General manager Jim Nill said the Stars expected all employees to act with integrity and exhibit professional behavior while working for and representing the organization. Without elaborating, Nill said Montgomery had acted inconsistently with “core values and beliefs of the Dallas Stars and the National Hockey League.”
Nill planned to speak with media later in the day, a few hours before a home game against the New Jersey Devils. Rick Bowness, who came on as an assistant coach with Montgomery, was named interim head coach.
The move by the Stars came only a day after NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, at a meeting of the Board of Governors, said the league would work swiftly to make changes to better deal with personal conduct issues raised by players and former players in recent weeks, including allegations of racism and physical abuse by coaches.
Montgomery’s firing is not related to that kind of misbehavior, a person familiar with the situation told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team had not elaborated on the reason for Montgomery’s dismissal.
Kings coach Todd McLellan says “the line between right and wrong is pretty clear” when it comes to what’s acceptable behavior for coaches toward players.
In all, four NHL coaches have lost their jobs already this season — three of them amid allegations of misbehavior.
Montgomery was 60-43-10 as the Stars coach after being hired in the summer of 2018 from the University of Denver for his first head coaching job in the NHL. Dallas made the playoffs last season before losing in double overtime in Game 7 of its second-round series on the road against the eventual Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues.
After the Stars got off to a 1-7-1 start this season, they won seven of eight and also recently had a seven-game winning streak. They are now 17-11-3 and in one of the Western Conference’s wild-card spots.
The league has been rocked by allegations over the past month, some of them dating back years.
Calgary coach Bill Peters resigned last month following accusations by former NHL player Akim Aliu that Peters previously directed racist slurs toward him while in the minor leagues a decade ago. Peters was also accused of physical abuse while coaching the Carolina Hurricanes.
Coach Mike Babcock was accused of verbal abuse after he was fired by the under-performing Toronto Maple Leafs, and Chicago assistant Marc Crawford is being investigated for alleged physical abuse of players.
Bettman said the NHL was conducting its own review of the Peters-Aliu situation. Among the items in a proposed plan by the league is that teams will be required to immediately report any incidents of inappropriate behavior by club personnel brought to their attention. Bettman said failure to do so would result in “severe discipline.”
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