Rick Bowness steps away as head coach of Dallas Stars

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The Dallas Stars will have a new voice behind their bench next season after the team announced Rick Bowness will not return.

“After careful consideration with my wife Judy, we feel it’s best to step away and allow the organization the opportunity to pursue a different direction at the head coaching position,” said Bowness in a statement. “I’d like to thank all the passionate fans and the dedicated staff for their support and hard work in my time here. It has been an honor for me, and my family, to represent the Stars and the city of Dallas.”

Bowness’ assistants, Derek Laxdal, John Stevens, and Todd Nelson will also not be back.

Bowness, 67, joined the Stars in June 2018 as an assistant on Jim Montgomery’s staff, but a year and a half later assumed the head coaching job on an interim basis after Montgomery was fired in Dec. 2019.

In parts of three seasons with the Stars, Bowness guided the team to a 89-62-5 record and two trips to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, including the 2020 Stanley Cup Final where they fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning. He leaves Dallas as the NHL’s all-time leader in games behind the bench as an assistant or head coach with 2,562.

Bowness’ contract was expiring after this season, but he is reportedly not ready to retire.

“I still love it,” Bowness said during his final meeting with the media this season. “I’ll have options. If I want them, the options will be there. I’m confident of that.”

Crowded coaching market

Stars general manager Jim Nill said the search for a new head coach will begin “immediately,” and he’ll have plenty of options. Barry Trotz, Rick Tocchet, Mike Babcock, Joel Quenneville, Rikard Grönborg, and Claude Julien are just a few of the names available on the coaching market.

There now six teams in the hunt for a new bench voice — Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Philadelphia, Vegas, Winnipeg — which is good for unemployed coaches but also means teams can’t wait if they really like a candidate.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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