Stars to name Denver's Jim Montgomery as new head coach

The Dallas Stars have dipped into the college hockey ranks for their next head coach.

Jim Montgomery, who spent the past five seasons as the head coach at Denver University, will be named the new Stars head coach on Friday, according to multiple reports. He replaces Ken Hitchcock, who retired after one season in his return to Dallas.

Montgomery, 48, led Denver to the NCAA men's Division I championship in 2017. He led the Pioneers to the NCAA tournament in each of his first four seasons. He previously was the head coach for the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL, winning two championships in three seasons from 2010-13.

In both stops, Montgomery was praised for the on-ice success the teams experienced, but also for the culture he built to give both programs an identity.

While it's rare for coaches to make the NCAA to NHL leap -- Montgomery will be the fifth head coach to do so, the last being Dave Hakstol of the Philadelphia Flyers -- this move includes a coach with NHL experience. Montgomery played 122 games in the NHL for the St. Louis Blues, Philadelphia Flyers, Montreal Canadiens, San Jose Sharks and the Dallas Stars, his last stop in the league in 2002-03.

Dallas GM Jim Nill said the Stars would cast a wide net for candidates after Hitchcock's departure. "I want to be pretty open-minded about this. You're seeing some successful young coaches come in and some successful coaches out there that have some great resumes," he said.

Montgomery is a fresh face after Nill's last two hires -- Hitchcock and Lindy Ruff -- were retreads. He takes over a Stars team that has missed the playoffs in eight of the past 10 seasons, including the last two straight. But the roster boasts standouts like Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Alex Radulov and John Klingberg, who were apparently compelling enough to pry Montgomery away from a cushy gig in Denver.