FRISCO, Texas — The Dallas Stars have officially removed the interim tag from Rick Bowness, 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.”

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.

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). 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.

THE NHL CLEARED Dale Tallon of any wrongdoing on Thursday after an independent investigation found it could not substantiate claims he made inappropriate racial, religious and ethnic comments as general manager of the Florida Panthers.

The league received an anonymous report in August of Tallon using racially derogatory language while in the Toronto playoff bubble and had in the past made openly racial, religious and ethnic comments. That day, it hired Seyfarth Shaw LLP to conduct an investigation and said among other steps the law firm interviewed more than a dozen Panthers employees and reviewed all information about the case.

The NHL said that investigation showed the allegations were “neither corroborated nor substantiated and are inconsistent with Tallon’s past actions and his affirmative efforts in support of diversity and inclusion initiatives.”

After Akim Aliu last year said he was the victim of racist comments from Coach Bill Peters during their time together in the minors, the NHL took steps to improve the reporting of such instances. That included a way for players, coaches and other staff to anonymously report behavior that would go against league policy and protocols.

The NHL found Tallon did not violate any of those.

SABRES: Buffalo avoided an arbitration hearing by signing forward Victor Olofsson to a two-year, $6.1 million contract on Thursday.

Olofsson was a restricted free agent and coming off a season in which he finished seventh in the Calder Cup vote for rookie of the year honors. He was selected to the NHL’s All-Rookie team and had a chance to finish higher in the Calder voting if not for missing 15 games with a lower body injury.

The 25-year-old finished third on the team with 20 goals and 42 points in 54 games. Olofsson most notably set an NHL record in becoming the first player to score his first seven goals on the power play.

LIGHTNING: Tampa Bay re-signed two depth players from their Stanley Cup-winning team on Thursday, bringing back forward Patrick Maroon and defenseman Luke Schenn.

Maroon signed a two-year deal worth $1.8 million, while Schenn gets $900,000 for next season. Maroon and Schenn were among the newcomers who helped put the Lightning over the top after several years of playoff heartbreak.

Maroon became the only back-to-back Cup champion in 2019 and 2020 after winning it with his hometown St. Louis Blues the previous season. He’s just the eighth player in NHL history to win the Cup in consecutive seasons with different teams and the first to do so in back-to-back years since Claude Lemieux in the mid-1990s.

COYOTES: The Arizona Coyotes renounced their rights to their top 2020 draft pick after saying they learned more about his bullying of a Black classmate with developmental disabilities four years ago.

The team parted ways with Mitchell Miller after taking criticism for selecting him in the fourth round earlier this month despite knowing of his 2016 assault conviction. Arizona acknowledged it knew about the incident when it selected Miller 111th overall.

“We do not condone this type of behavior but embraced this as a teachable moment to work with Mitchell to make him accountable for his actions and provide him with an opportunity to be a leader on anti-bullying and anti-racism efforts,” President and CEO Xavier Gutierrez said. “We have learned more about the entire matter, and more importantly, the impact it has had on Isaiah and the Meyer-Crothers family. What we learned does not align with the core values and vision for our organization and leads to our decision to renounce our draft rights.”

Miller pleaded guilty at age 14 to one count of assault and one count of violation of the Ohio Safe Schools Act. He and another teenager were accused of making 14-year-old Isaiah Meyer-Crothers eat a candy push pop after wiping it in a bathroom urinal, and surveillance video showed them kicking and punching him.

Meyer-Crothers told the Arizona Republic earlier in October he was stunned and saddened when he found out the Coyotes drafted Miller, who he said taunted him with racist language and repeatedly hit him when they were growing up in a suburb of Toledo.

“It hurt my heart to be honest,” Meyer-Crothers told the newspaper. “It’s stupid that (the Coyotes) didn’t go back and look what happened in the past, but I can’t do anything about it.”

Miller sent a letter to all 31 NHL teams acknowledging what happened and apologizing for his behavior. Meyer-Crothers’ mother, Joni, said Miller never personally apologized to Isaiah or their family other than a court-mandated letter.

New general manager Bill Armstrong, who was not allowed to participate in the draft as a condition of the Coyotes hiring him away from the St. Louis Blues, voiced support for the decision.

“Mitchell is a good hockey player, but we need to do the right thing as an organization and not just as a hockey team,” Armstrong said. “I’d like to apologize to Isaiah and the Meyer-Crothers family for everything they have dealt with the past few months.”

Miller was the Coyotes’ top pick in the draft because former GM John Chayka traded their first-rounder to New Jersey for winger Taylor Hall – who since left in free agency – and their third-rounder to Colorado for forward Carl Soderberg, and their second-rounder was forfeited for violating scouting combine policy. Arizona also was stripped of its 2021 first-round pick for breaking NHL rules by conducting physical testing of draft-eligible players.

The 18-year-old defenseman becomes a free agent, effective immediately.

“We are building a model franchise on and off the ice and will do the right thing for Isaiah and the Meyer-Crothers family, our fans and our partners,” said Gutierrez, who earlier this year became the first Latino CEO in the league. “Mr. Miller is now a free agent and can pursue his dream of becoming an NHL player elsewhere.”

The Coyotes said they and their charitable foundation will look to partner with local organizations that combat bullying and racism.


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