The Dallas Stars fired head coach Jim Montgomery on Tuesday, citing “unprofessional conduct,” but would not comment further on the circumstances surrounding his dismissal.
He was in his second season with the club. Montgomery, 50, signed a four-year, $6.4 million contract when the Stars hired him in May 2018.
In a news conference, general manager Jim Nill said he received a phone call on Sunday alerting him to a “situation ... involving an employee.”
“Upon collecting all the information and executing an internal investigation, including speaking with ownership, management and general counsel, it was determined that there was a material act of unprofessionalism contrary to the values and standards held by the Dallas Stars organization,” Nill said. “It is very clear this cannot be tolerated and therefore we have relieved Jim Montgomery of his duties immediately.”
Nill continued that the decision to terminate Montgomery was not based on his performance, nor did it have to do with his conduct toward past or present players. It also did not releated to any sort of criminal investigation, he said, but would not comment further “out of respect for everyone involved.”
“I mean, everyone is surprised, obviously. No one knew about this and it came as a shock,” Stars defenseman John Klingberg said, according to NHL.com “But like I said, we’re professionals. We have a game here tonight and we’re going to have to focus on that and move on.”
Rick Bowness, an assistant on Montgomery’s staff, was named interim head coach. He becomes the team’s sixth coach, either on a full-time or interim basis, since 2011. Derek Laxdal, head coach of the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League, has been added to the Dallas Stars’ staff.
Nill said he informed Montgomery of his firing on Tuesday morning and would not reveal anything else about their conversation.
“He’s disappointed. We’re disappointed,” Nill said.
The players were informed of the move Tuesday morning.
The Stars were 43-32-7 in 2018-19 and lost in the second round of the playoffs to the St. Louis Blues.
This season, the Stars are 17-11-3 after a 1-7-1 start.
Before joining Dallas, Montgomery coached Denver to an NCAA title in 2017. He had a 125-57-26 record in five seasons with the Pioneers.
Bowness brings prior head coaching experience to the Dallas bench. In stints as the head coach of the Winnipeg Jets (1988-89), Boston Bruins (1991-92), Ottawa Senators (1992-96), New York Islanders (1996-98) and Phoenix Coyotes (2003-04), he posted a 123-289-48 record.
—Field Level Media