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Stars Fire Coach Jim Montgomery Due to 'Unprofessional Conduct'

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The Stars have fired head coach Jim Montgomery due to unprofessional conduct, the team announced Tuesday.

Assistant coach Rick Bowness, who has been with the team since June 2018, will serve as Dallas' interim coach.

"The Dallas Stars expect all of our employees to act with integrity and exhibit professional behavior while working for and representing our organization. This decision was made due to unprofessional conduct inconsistent with the core values and beliefs of the Dallas Stars and the National Hockey League," general manager Jim Nill said in a statement.

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The Stars hired Montgomery, 50, prior to the start of the 2018-19 season after he coached for five years at the University of Denver. Montgomery reached a 60–43–10 record during his time with the team and led them to an appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season. Dallas fell in seven games in the second round to the Blues, who went on to win the Cup championship. Montgomery has two years remaining on his contract.

His firing comes one day after NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced a four-point plan for change and inclusion in the league. The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun reports the NHL was aware of the situation with Montgomery before Bettman's announcement and the coach's dismissal does not fall under the new plan.

Coaches' conduct has been under a microscope lately in the NHL. After Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock was fired in November, he was accused of asking then-rookie Mike Marner of ranking his teammates from hardest to least hardest working in the 2016-17 season. Babcock reportedly shared the Marner's list with other players. 

Following Babcock's firing, former NHL player Akim Aliu accused then-Flames coach Bill Peters of making racist comments to him when Peters was his coach with the AHL's Rockford IceHogs. The Flames investigated the allegations and Peters resigned on Nov. 29.

Dallas has gone 17–11–3 this season and currently holds the first wild card spot in the Western Conference.