Stars’ Bowness quits after three seasons

Rick Bowness is stepping down as Dallas Stars head coach after three seasons, the team announced Friday.

Bowness, 67, saw his two-year contract expire after the Calgary Flames eliminated the Stars in seven games in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. Assistant coaches Derek Laxdal, John Stevens and Todd Nelson will also not return to the Stars next season.

“After careful consideration with my wife Judy, we believe it is best to step aside and give the organization the opportunity to pursue a different direction as head coach,” Bowness said in a statement. “I want to thank all of the passionate fans and dedicated staff for their support and hard work during my time here. It has been an honor for me and my family to represent the Stars and the City of Dallas.”

Bowness coached the Stars for a game of three seasons, amassing an 89-62-25 record. As assistant coach at the time, he took over on an interim basis after the team parted ways with coach Jim Montgomery in December 2019. Bowness led Dallas to the Stanley Cup Finals in the post-season “bubble” necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning. He got a two-year contract after that run.

Dallas failed to qualify for the playoffs in 2020-21 but finished in the top wildcard spot in the Western Conference this season, fending off Pacific Division leader Calgary before losing 3-2 in overtime in Game 7.

Bowness was the 24th head coach in team history. His .577 point percentage was the fifth highest mark in franchise history. General manager Jim Nill called Bowness “one of the most respected and beloved people to ever coach” in the NHL.

Bowness has 2,562 games behind the bench as an assistant or head coach, which is the most players in NHL history. He has a career head coaching record of 211-351-76 in 638 games with Winnipeg (1988-89), Boston (1991-92), Ottawa (1992-96), New York Islanders (1996- 98), Phoenix (2003-04) and Dallas (2019-22). Additionally, he held assistant coaching positions with the Winnipeg Jets, Boston Bruins, Ottawa Senators, Islanders, Phoenix Coyotes, Vancouver Canucks and Lightning. He is also one of three coaches in NHL history to have served as head coach in five different decades, alongside Hockey Hall of Famers Pat Quinn and Scotty Bowman.

“His dedication and commitment to the game, and the impact he has had on countless players, coaches and support staff throughout his five decades in the League is unmatched,” said Nill. “He has dedicated his life to our game, and we are honored to say that the Dallas Stars are part of his legacy. When he was called upon to lead our team a few seasons ago, he took on the role in a transparency and helped guide our team through unprecedented world events that affected our players and staff on and off the ice. On behalf of the entire organization, I wish Rick, Judy and the rest of their family nothing but the best to move forward.

The Stars are now the fifth NHL team to seek a new head coach this offseason, joining the Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers, Vegas Golden Knights and Jets. This is expected to be a robust market for coaching candidates, such as recently fired coaches like Barry Trotz and Peter DeBoer among other veteran bench managers like Claude Julien, Paul Maurice, Alain Vigneault, Rick Tocchet and John Tortorella.

Mike Babcock and Joel Quenneville, two of the most successful coaches of all time, could also be available, although both bring considerable baggage. Babcock was accused of mental abuse by former players after being sent back to Toronto in 2019. Quenneville resigned from the Florida Panthers in 2021 after the release of a report detailing how the Chicago Blackhawks mishandled allegations according to which a player was allegedly sexually abused by an assistant. coach in 2010, when Quenneville was the team’s head coach.

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