Stars coach Montgomery axed after NHL announce crackdown

Los Angeles (AFP) –


The Dallas Stars fired head coach Jim Montgomery on Tuesday for "unprofessional conduct", just a day after National Hockey League chiefs vowed to crack down on teams who fail to report bad behaviour.

In a surprise announcement, Stars general manager Jim Nill said Montgomery had been sacked and replaced by assistant Rick Bowness.

"The Dallas Stars expect all of our employees to act with integrity and exhibit professional behavior while working for and representing our organization," Nill said in a statement.

"This decision was made due to unprofessional conduct inconsistent with the core values and beliefs of the Dallas Stars and the National Hockey League."

Montgomery, who was hired by Dallas in May 2018, had two years remaining on his contract. He had led the team to a 17-11-3 start to the season, putting them in the frame for a playoff berth.

Montgomery's dismissal came less than 24 hours after NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league was moving to stamp out "abusive behaviour of any kind" through a range of new programs.

Bettman said teams would now be required to notify the league immediately if there were any grounds for concern.

"There will be zero tolerance for any failure to notify us," Bettman said. "And in the event of such failure, the club and individuals involved can expect severe discipline."

"Our clubs are on notice that if they become aware of an incident of conduct involving NHL personnel on or off the ice that is clearly inappropriate, unlawful or demonstrably abusive, or that may violate the league's policies involving NHL club personnel, we at the league office must be immediately advised," he added.

The NHL crackdown comes after former player Akim Aliu alleged he had been subjected to racist language by former Calgary Flames head coach Bill Peters 10 years ago. Peters resigned his position following Aliu's revelations.

The Chicago Blackhawks last week placed assistant coach Marc Crawford on leave following allegations of physical abuse.