The Bruins have found their next head coach as they officially announced on Friday that they have hired Jim Montgomery as their new head coach. He takes over for Bruce Cassidy who was fired earlier this offseason. GM Don Sweeney released the following statement about the hire:
Jim has a winning history, and throughout the interview process he conveyed his ability to connect with all types of players while also demanding that his teams play with structure. We are excited for Jim to begin to make his imprint on our team.
This hire is a bit of a surprising one, as the Bruins had been interviewing candidates such as David Quinn and Jay Leach, coaches with deep ties to either Boston hockey or the Bruins organization. Montgomery does not have such deep ties to the Bruins, and the Montreal native did not play in the Boston area during his 122-game NHL career. He did have an extremely successful career at the University of Maine, which is technically within New England, but still, his ties to the area are dwarfed by the other reported finalists.
Montgomery is an intriguing candidate in part because of why he’s in this position in the first place. After an extremely successful tenure at the helm of the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints, winning two championships in three years, he left to coach the NCAA’s University of Denver. There, Montgomery won the 2017 NCAA National Championship.
That success at Denver led Montgomery to his first NHL head coaching job, taking the reins of a Dallas Stars franchise that had missed the playoffs the year before. Montgomery’s player-focused, upbeat coaching style immediately connected with the Stars players, and he went 43-32-7 and won a playoff series. The next year, though, Montgomery was fired early in the season for what the team called “unprofessional conduct.” After his firing, Montgomery made his struggles with alcohol abuse public, and began the process of rehabilitation.
His recovery was successful enough for him to earn another chance to coach in the NHL, this time as an assistant on Craig Berube’s St. Louis Blues staff. There, Montgomery coached a powerplay that rocketed to among the league’s best, and it’s on the back of that success that he gets his second chance at being an NHL head coach, now in Boston, where ESPN’s Kevin Weekes reports that he has received a three-year deal worth around $2MM annually.
For the Bruins, the hire of Montgomery represents a significant departure from Cassidy’s style of management. Cassidy’s more demanding style reportedly wore on the Bruins’ players and played a role in his firing despite all the success he had. Montgomery’s style is a departure from Cassidy’s, as he is by all reports a highly approachable, player-first bench boss. It remains to be seen if the team’s swap of Cassidy for Montgomery, and the stylistic changes that result from that swap, is ultimately successful. But what we do know now is that this move, at the very least, gives a coach who was once viewed as a rising star the second chance at coaching that he’s worked so hard to earn.
Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic was the first to report that Montgomery was set to become Boston’s head coach.