The Dallas Stars fired head coach Jim Montgomery for “unprofessional conduct,” the team said in a surprise announcement Tuesday.
Montgomery, 50, had two years remaining on his deal and had led the Stars to a playoff position and a 17-11-3 start, including 16-4-2 over the last 22 games.
“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. “This decision was made due to unprofessional conduct inconsistent with the core values and beliefs of the Dallas Stars and the National Hockey League.”
Rick Bowness, an assistant with the Stars since June 2018, will serve as the interim head coach. On Tuesday night, Dallas hosts the New Jersey Devils, another team that recently dropped its coach (for performance reasons rather than conduct).
Nill told reporters Tuesday that he would not discuss the incident in question but that he received a call Sunday that sparked an internal investigation. There was a “material act of unprofessionalism,” he said.
Montgomery was hired by the Stars in May 2018 after a successful five-year run, including a national championship, as the coach at Denver University.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman suggested Monday that a “zero-tolerance” policy for teams who do not report bad behavior will lead to “severe discipline” toward the club.
“Going forward, our clubs are on notice that if they become aware of an incident of conduct involving NHL personnel on or off the ice that is clearly inappropriate, unlawful or demonstrably abusive, or that may violate the league’s policies involving NHL club personnel, we at the league office — Bill Daly or me — must be immediately advised,” he said.
Earlier this season, former player Akim Aliu alleged that former Calgary Flames coach Bill Peters directed racist language at him about 10 years ago. Peters eventually resigned. Last week, the Chicago Blackhawks placed Marc Crawford on leave as they investigate multiple allegations of physical abuse.