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Dallas Stars fire head coach Jim Montgomery, citing ‘unprofessional conduct’

WATCH: Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill announces he has fired head coach Jim Montgomery.

The Dallas Stars abruptly fired head coach Jim Montgomery on Tuesday, citing allegations of “unprofessional conduct” without providing specifics.

Stars general manager Jim Nill said the allegations were not related to abuse of past or former players. The decision also had nothing to do with the Stars’ on-ice performance, Nill told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday.

Nill said Montgomery’s actions were inconsistent with the “core values and beliefs of the Dallas Stars and the National Hockey League.”

READ MORE: In wake of racism and abuse allegations, is hockey at its tipping point?

“This all came to light on Sunday,” Nill said. He added that a “decision had to be made” but declined to provide any details “out of respect for everyone involved.”

He said the alleged misconduct was not criminal and had no connection to current or past players with the franchise as far as he is aware.

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“I’m not going to discuss the act,” Nill said. “We decided it was unprofessional, a decision had to be made, and that is it.”

READ MORE: Ex-NHLer Daniel Carcillo alleges verbal abuse by long-time coach Darryl Sutter

Nill hired Montgomery out of the college ranks to coach the Stars in summer 2018. Montgomery compiled a 60-43-10 record as Stars coach and led his team to the playoffs last year. They bowed out in the second round to the eventual Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues in a Game 7 thriller.

Assistant coach Rick Bowness will take over as the interim head coach.

“Unfortunately, Jim was my hire,” he said.

Montgomery is the fourth NHL coach to lose his job this year and the third to be accused of misconduct.

Bill Peters resigned as coach of the Calgary Flames last month after former NHLer Akim Aliu accused him of using racist slurs in the minor leagues several years ago. Others also accused Peters of being physically abusive while he was coaching the Carolina Hurricanes a few years ago.

Bill Peters resigns as head coach of Calgary Flames, team looks to move on after tumultuous week
Bill Peters resigns as head coach of Calgary Flames, team looks to move on after tumultuous week

The allegations emerged after the Toronto Maple Leafs fired coach Mike Babcock in the middle of a losing skid. Allegations surfaced after Babcock’s departure that he had pressured a rookie to draft a list of the laziest players on his team a few years ago, then shared that list with those other players.

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Chicago assistant coach Marc Crawford is also being investigated over alleged physical abuse of players.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the league’s board of governors met on Monday to discuss a four-point plan for dealing with personnel issues involving abuse or misconduct.

“Inclusion and diversity are not simply buzzwords. They are foundation principles of the NHL,” Bettman told reporters. “Our message is unequivocal: we will not tolerate abusive behaviour of any kind.”

Former NHL player Dan Carcillo on changing the culture of hockey
Former NHL player Dan Carcillo on changing the culture of hockey

Bettman said he believes most NHL coaches conduct themselves appropriately, but it’s critical to have a program in place to prevent issues from getting out of hand.

“Not everyone will approve of every coach’s methods,” Bettman said. “However, there are lines that cannot be crossed. Clearly, physical abuse and racial and homophobic language cross the line.”

With files from the Associated Press