One day after NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced a four-point plan for change and inclusion in the league, the Dallas Stars have fired head coach Jim Montgomery. In a statement from the team, the reason provided for the change was "unprofessional conduct." Assistant coach Rick Bowness will take over as the interim coach.
"The Dallas Stars expect all of our employees to act with integrity and exhibit professional behavior while working for and representing our organization," general manager Jim Nill said in a statement from the team. "This decision was made due to unprofessional conduct inconsistent with the core values and beliefs of the Dallas Stars and the National Hockey League."
According to Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic, Montgomery's dismissal isn't directly tied to Bettman's new plan. The NHL was reportedly aware of the coach's conduct prior to the change, as well as Bettman's press conference. The firing is apparently not related.
Following his statement about the firing, the GM in Nill told reporters that he had been made aware of "a material act of unprofessional" conduct over the weekend. This prompted an investigation into Montgomery and resulted in the Tuesday firing. However, Nill did clarify that the act by Montgomery did not involve any current or former players or staff members in the Stars organization. There is also no criminal element in play.
Sean Shapiro of The Athletic reports that Nill would not reveal what had prompted the investigation and that he had not informed the players of the reported action. He wanted to keep the identities of those involved anonymous out of respect. The alleged incident that led to the firing reportedly occurred a few days prior to Nill receiving a phone call about Montgomery.
Coaching conduct in the NHL has been under examination as of late due to reported issues with multiple teams. Calgary Flames coach Bill Peters is under investigation after allegedly directing racist rants at a former player, and Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock was fired after having a rookie player rank his teammates in order of their work ethic.
Montgomery, 50, was hired prior to the 2018-19 season after a five-year stint at the University of Denver. The Stars achieved a 60–43–10 record during his tenure and appeared in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. However, the team fell during the second round after losing a seven-game series to the St. Louis Blues.
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