Rick Bowness will not return as Stars head coach next season

Rick Bowness will not return as Stars head coach next season

Rick Bowness will not return as Dallas Stars head coach after nearly three seasons in which he led them to the 2020 Stanley Cup Finals and the playoffs again this year.

Although Bowness has not been under contract this season, the 67-year-old coach said in a team statement on Friday that he was stepping down to “allow the organization the opportunity to pursue a different direction at head coaching position. The move doesn’t necessarily mean Bowness is done coaching.

General manager Jim Nill said assistant coaches John Stevens, Derek Laxdal and Todd Nelson will also not be returning.

Bowness was on an NHL bench for a record 2,562 regular season games as a head coach or assistant for nearly four decades. He was 89-62-25 as a head coach at Dallas, where he was a second-year assistant before being named interim head coach in December 2019 after Jim Montgomery was fired for off-ice issues.

After the Stars reached the Stanley Cup Finals in that pandemic-altered 2019-20 season, the interim tag was dropped and Bowness was given a two-year contract.

“Rick is one of the most respected and loved individuals to have coached in the NHL,” Nill said. “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. He has dedicated his life to our game, and we’re honored to say the Dallas Stars are part of his legacy.”

A lifelong hockey player, Bowness said after the season ended with an overtime loss in Game 7 of the first-round series at favorite Calgary that he still had a passion to continue coaching. He said he would have coaching opportunities if he wanted.

“I’ll have options, let’s put it that way. If I want them, the options will be there. I’m convinced of that,” Bowness said at a season-ending press conference on Tuesday. “You guys don’t know yet, you’ll miss me when I’m gone.”

Bowness’ stint as the Stars’ interim head coach included a 4½ month break in the season due to the pandemic and two months in a post-season bubble in Canada. Then there was a shortened 56-game season last year when the Stars suffered an NHL-high 14 losses after regulation and missed the playoffs.

“When called upon to lead our team a few seasons ago, he took on the role seamlessly and helped guide our team through unprecedented global events that affected our players and staff on and off. ice cream,” said Nill, who has one. year remaining on his contract.

Dallas entered this year’s playoffs as a wild card, but its 98 points were a total the team had only reached once in the previous 14 seasons.

Scotty Bowman and Pat Quinn, both Hockey Hall of Famers, and Bowness are the only other head coaches with games in five different decades. Bowness did it with Winnipeg (1989), Boston (1991-92), Ottawa (1992-96), New York Islanders (1996-98), Phoenix (2004) and Dallas (2019-22). He was also an assistant for Vancouver and Tampa Bay.

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