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Dallas Stars' Rick Bowness steps down as head coach after three seasons

May 20 (UPI) -- Dallas Stars head coach Rick Bowness has stepped down from his position after three seasons at the helm, the team announced Friday.

Bowness' two-year contract expired after the Calgary Flames eliminated the Stars in seven games during their first-round playoff series. Stars assistant coaches Derek Laxdal, John Stevens and Todd Nelson also won't return to the club next season.

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"After careful consideration with my wife Judy, we feel it's best to step away and allow the organization the opportunity to pursue a different direction at the head coaching position," Bowness said in a statement. "I'd like to thank all the passionate fans and the dedicated staff for their support and hard work in my time here.

"It has been an honor for me, and my family, to represent the Stars and the city of Dallas."

Bowness coached the Stars for parts of three seasons and compiled an 89-62-25 record. An assistant coach at the time, he took over on an interim basis after Dallas parted ways with former head coach Jim Montgomery in December 2019.

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The 67-year-old Bowness guided the Stars to the Stanley Cup Final in the COVID-19 bubble postseason in 2020, losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games. He was rewarded with a two-year contract after that run.

The Stars failed to reach the postseason in the 2020-21 campaign, but they finished in the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference this season. Dallas provided a tough challenge for the Pacific Division leader Flames before losing 3-2 in overtime of Game 7.

"His dedication and commitment to the game, and the impact that he's made on countless players, coaches and support staff throughout his five decades in the league is unmatched," Stars general manager Jim Nill said in a statement. "He has dedicated his life to our game, and we are honored to say that the Dallas Stars are part of his legacy.

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"When he was called upon to lead our team a few seasons ago, he stepped into the role seamlessly and helped guide our team through unprecedented global events that affected our players and staff both on and off the ice. On behalf of the entire organization, I want to wish Rick, Judy and the rest of their family nothing but the best moving forward."

Bowness has 2,562 games behind the bench as an assistant or head coach -- the most for any individual in NHL history. He has amassed a career head-coaching record of 211-351-76 across 638 games with the Winnipeg Jets (1988-89), Boston Bruins (1991-92), Ottawa Senators (1992-96), New York Islanders (1996-98), Phoenix Coyotes (2003-04) and Stars (2019-22).

The Stars are now the fifth team in the league currently seeking a new head coach this off-season, joining the Vegas Golden Knights, Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers and Jets.

Earlier this week, the Islanders hired Lane Lambert to replace former coach Barry Trotz, who was fired after missing the playoffs.

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