Interim no more: Stars offically name Bowness as coach

The Dallas Stars won the NHL's Western Conference but came up short in the Stanley Cup Final. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press via AP)

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Interim coach Rick Bowness is interim no more: The Dallas Stars have officially removed the temporary tag from the coach who led them to the Stanley Cup Final.

General manager Jim Nill made the long-anticipated announcement Thursday, a month after the extended and most unusual season came to a close. The 65-year-old Bowness is the Stars’ 24th head coach, their ninth since moving to Dallas in 1993.

Bowness was 20-13-5 after becoming their interim head coach in December. He was in his second season as a Stars assistant for Jim Montgomery, who was fired and later went to alcohol rehabilitation.

“My wife Judy and I are thrilled to have this opportunity to continue our work here in Dallas,” Bowness said. “This team is very special for me, that time in Edmonton was unlike any experience I have ever had in hockey, and it brought us together as a staff and as a team.”

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There were no immediate details about Bowness’ contract.

The Stars made it to their first Stanley Cup Final since 2000. After going winless in their final six games before the coronavirus pandemic halted the season in mid-March, the Stars went to the NHL bubble in Edmonton to finish the season. They won the Western Conference before falling to Tampa Bay in six games.

“After being called upon in a difficult situation, Rick stepped into the interim head coaching role seamlessly and used his unmatched experience to lead the team to a successful second half of the season and a spot in the Stanley Cup Final,” Nill said. “Watching the team throughout our playoff experience, you really saw the team become his. His ability to connect with our players and our staff is remarkable, and it leads to a situation where everyone is competing for him because they want to see him win.”

The only NHL coaches other than Bowness to be a head coach in parts of five different decades are Hall of Fame members Pat Quinn and Scotty Bowman.

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Bowness was the head coach previously in Winnipeg (1988-89), Boston (1991-92), Ottawa (1992-96), the New York Islanders (1996-98) and Phoenix (2003-04). He was also a long-time assistant, and was on Tampa Bay’s staff in 2015 when the Lightning lost in the Stanley Cup Final before joining the Stars.