The Dallas Stars blindsided the hockey world on Tuesday by firing head coach Jim Montgomery “due to unprofessional conduct inconsistent with the core values and beliefs of the Dallas Stars and the National Hockey League,” and that includes the players wearing Victory Green.
Although the conduct reportedly does not fall under the umbrella of league changes and new policies announced by Gary Bettman on Monday, the undisclosed event was pivotal enough to take Monty’s job within a few days of the information reaching GM Jim Nill’s attention.
In Tuesday’s press conference, Nill said the incident does not involve any players or employees — past or present — and that he was informed of the action this weekend before an investigation began on Sunday. No players or staff, including interim head coach Rick Bowness, were informed about the investigation until Tuesday when the decision was made to dismiss Montgomery.
Instead of fielding questions about squaring off against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday, Stars players Jamie Benn, John Klingberg and Tyler Seguin were asked questions on Montgomery’s abrupt dismissal and how the team will move forward under Bowness.
Here’s what a few of the players had to say.
The captain opened up his media scrum by saying he was “pretty shocked.”
“You didn’t expect that coming into the rink today; it’s a tough situation … trying to treat it like any other day even though we know it’s not just another day,” Benn said to the media.
Been also made the point that the challenge is to stay focused on the task at hand and getting points in the standings, although he recognizes that the uncertainty looms large.
“There’s a lot of questions that want to be answered and we have some too but we don’t know much. It’s our job to focus on this game tonight and that’s what we will do.
“We trust in Jim Nill and this organization and their decisions. We’re going to trust that they made the right decision and hopefully we can move on. . . It’s news to you guys, it’s news to us and that’s all we really know.
“I loved playing for Monty and I wish him all the best.”
Klingberg was asked about Browness’ message to the team following the news on Tuesday morning.
“It’s all about sticking together right now. What’s best for the Dallas Stars? We have a game here tonight. We need to get out there and get a win and stick together and do what’s best for the Dallas Stars,” Klingberg told reporters.
“Everyone that’s come this far in their career, they’re obviously true professionals and they know how to deal with these types of situations,” Klingberg said on the dynamic within the locker room. “It’s shocking for all of us and if they need someone to talk to, they know they can talk to us and talk to other guys on this team and that’s what I feel like is a real strength of our team. A lot of the guys are really open-hearted and open-minded. We know what you can get from each guy on this team and you know who you can talk to if you need to. Coaches’ doors are always open as well and then Jim Nill’s door is always open as well.
“You see this all over everywhere right now, not only in hockey or sports, you see it in normal life as well,” the defenseman said. “It’s a good thing it comes up too. It needs to be changed around this world — how you treat people and how you think about stuff so that’s a good thing.
“We don’t know what happened. I never had any troubles with Monty at all. He’s been my head coach for a year and he’s done a lot for the Stars’ organization.”
“I was looking forward to him being my last coach in Dallas,” Seguin told the media. “I’ve had many coaches but [it’s] out of my control and out of the guys’ control and we trust our management and obviously trust Jim Nill so whatever happened, obviously he made the right decision, Jim [Nill] and we’re going to move on.”
“We’re not trying to find answers,” Seguin clarified. “Definitely not right now. You trust your GM and your management; they made that decision and we back it up and we go and be pros and play hockey tonight against a good team.”
Throughout their rollercoaster season and now a coaching change out of left-field, Seguin said the mission is to stay even-keeled and know you’ve got a job to do.
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