NHL's Dallas Stars fire head coach Jim Montgomery under mysterious circumstances
Firing season in the NHL often comes at the end of the league's schedule, but Jim Montgomery of the Dallas Stars became the fourth coach to be relieved of his duties when he was let go Tuesday.
The move comes on the heels of the NHL announcing that new standards of behavior will be put in place for all personnel. Examples of the kind of behavior that the league will no longer tolerate include the emotional and physical abuse leveled by former Calgary Flames head coach Bill Peters and alleged about ex-Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock. John Hynes of the New Jersey Devils was also fired this season after that team got off to a poor start.
Stars general manager Jim Nill did not go into the details behind the Montgomery firing, but he did say it was for unprofessional behavior.
"First of all, we approve the NHL in creating the four-point initiative, the plan," Nill said, per NHL.com. "I was in contact with the NHL, but this decision was made before that initiative came out. There is no connection between the two."
The Stars had been playing excellent hockey prior to the firing, and Nill said Montgomery’s dismissal had nothing to do with the team's on-ice performance. After a rough 1-7-1 start to the season, the Stars were 16-4-2 in the next 22 games. Dallas registered a 2-0 victory Tuesday night over the New Jersey Devils in their first game without Montgomery.
Rick Bowness, an assistant on Montgomery’s staff and veteran NHL coach, has been named the team’s interim head coach.
Montgomery had a 60-43-10 record as the Stars’ head coach. Last year’s team reached the second round of the NHL playoffs against the eventual Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues. The Stars lost that series in seven games.
Dallas players Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn were shocked to hear the news that their head coach had been fired. Defenseman John Klingberg said players wanted to fully understand the issue, but it was up to management to provide the reasons or stay silent.
“We know Monty, but we don’t know what happened. It’s about the Dallas Stars here, and like I said, we trust the management that they’re making the right decision for the Dallas Stars,” Klingberg said, per The Athletic. “It’s up to Jim and the management if they want to release what happened or not."
It did not sound like Nill was anxious to reveal all the facts behind the decision to fire Montgomery. However, the story will linger until the facts are either released or unearthed. While the team denied the recent behavioral issues that have impacted the league are the key to the firing, the potential abuse of players – past or present – may have something to do with the Stars firing their coach.