After leading taking over the head coaching duties on an interim basis after the unexpected firing of Jim Montgomery last December, Rick Bowness led the Stars to their first appearance in the Stanley Cup Final in twenty years. Even though Dallas ultimately lost the series 4-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the magical postseason run in Edmonton was enough for ownership and the front office to reward Bowness with being officially named the team’s head coach on Thursday.
Bones is BACK 🦴
We have officially named Rick Bowness as our 24th head coach in franchise history
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) October 29, 2020
Are you happy with the teams decision to remove the interim tag from Bowness?
Garrett Jones: For this season and next, yes. Reports are that Bowness signed a two-year deal- and, despite the year-to-year volatility of the NHL, we can safely assume that the Stars will be in their current “Stanley Cup window” throughout his deal. After those two years, I’m happy Dallas will have the option to go with a longer-term choice here. Bowness is 65, which makes him the oldest head coach in the NHL. For now, that experience is an advantage for the defending Western Conference champs.
Dylan Duell: I’m not against the move at all, but I’m not exactly leaping for joy. It’s seemingly impossible to show a coach the door if they just were on the bench while your team went to its first Stanley Cup Final in twenty years, but I would not have minded the Stars searching for another long-term answer right now. Bowness has been pretty open how his passion for coaching isn’t exactly a given for the foreseeable future. Given his age, that’s totally understandable. The guy is a “hockey lifer” and it would make sense that one day he might wake up and just not feel like the grind. That said, he’s made it clear the run in Edmonton absolutely recharged his passion for the job and he’ll be ready to go right back to leading Dallas for the 2020-2021 season.
After the run the team went on this summer, it would have been radical to not offer Bowness this job if he wanted it. At what point throughout the playoff run do you think he more or less clinched the gig?
Garrett: Winning a game seven against Colorado and advancing past the conference semis was huge, but I think it was the absolute domination of Vegas in the Conference Finals that sealed his return. Almost every expert punched the Golden Knights’ ticket to the Cup final before the puck dropped in game one. The Stars were the more disciplined and well-coached team despite having less talent on paper. Bowness’ demeanor kept the Stars even keeled, a direct contrast to Vegas’ group of loose canons, and the result showed. Furthermore, after the conference clinch, team leader and postseason star Joe Pavelski made a point to first congratulate the then-interim coach. That’s a microcosm of how the players feel about him.
Dylan: I would think that he might have even clinched the job after getting the guys to snap out of their offensive funk in their first round series against the Flames. They were just a handful of seconds from falling down 3-1 in the series before Joe Pavelski scored a tying goal late in regulation in game four and then John Klingberg won it in overtime. I think that bit of resiliency was enough to clinch it, but he very possibly could have lost the gig if the Stars completed their collapse against the Avalanche in the second round. Losing a series after being up 3-1 would have been a hard pill to swallow and there might have needed to be a new voice in the room after the controversial decision by Bowness to go with the injured Ben Bishop in net to start game five. Everything ended up okay and Dallas made it to its first conference final since 2008. It’s funny how easily postseason success and failure can swing your confidence in a coach. It’s quite a thin line.
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