For the fifth time in five seasons, the Dallas Stars will have a new head coach on the bench.
Head coach Rick Bowness, who got the job after guiding the team to the 2020 Stanley Cup Finals in an interim role, announced he was stepping down on Friday.
Bowness, 67, just completed his second full season with the Stars. Several key assistants will also not be retained, according to the team.
Rick Bowness will step down as head coach, effective immediately.
Additionally, assistant coaches John Stevens, Derek Laxdal and Todd Nelson will not be returning next season.
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) May 20, 2022
It’s the first in a series of questions that have been asked in the days following the Stars’ 4-3 loss to the Calgary Flames that ended in overtime in Game 7.
Bowness was popular with players, but fans grew impatient after the team missed the playoffs in 2021. Dallas secured the No. 1 Wild Card spot this season and recorded its highest point total since 2016 ( when he won the regular-season points title in the West), but finished with a negative goal differential and showed glaring strategic and miscellaneous on-ice performance issues, particularly on offense.
According to Matthew Deranks of the Dallas Morning News, the team is retaining video coaches Kelly Forbes and Matt Rodeel in addition to goalie coach Jeff Reese.
Rick Bowness is stepping down as Stars coach, source says, confirming @KevinWeekes‘ report.
Derek Laxdal, John Stevens and Todd Nelson will not return. Kelly Forbes, Matt Rodell and Jeff Reese are not affected by these movements.
— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) May 20, 2022
Dallas will likely pursue an offensive-minded head coach. Former Stars coach and current St. Louis assistant Jim Montgomery could be an option, but it’s unclear at this point if he has any interest after being fired for a “material act of unprofessionalism contrary to the ‘Dallas Stars organization’ in December 2019.
The move gives general manager Jim Nill (entering the final season of his current contract) a major task to start the offseason. Other questions concern the signing of key young talents like goalkeeper Jake Oettinger (whose 64-save performance in Game 7 will forever go down in Stars lore) and forward Jason Robertson (who scored 40 goals in the season regular). Both players are restricted free agents.
Other key questions include what to do with Denis Gurianov, whether or not to engage with UFA John Klingberg. But for now, the number one priority is clear: find the next leader of this fledgling organization.