02.04.2023 - The Boston Bruins are having a great season and sit comfortably on top of the Eastern Conference Atlantic division. One of only six founding members of the NHL way back in 1942, the Bruins have won the Stanley Cup six times in total. However, fans need to go all the way back to 2011 for their last victory, an incredible playoff run that saw them beat the Vancouver Canucks, 4-0, in Game 7, to end an even longer 39-year wait.New Coach Jim Montgomery was only unveiled back in July 2022, but there’s no doubt that a decision that left some fans feeling uneasy, has been thoroughly vindicated. Their 3-2 comeback victory against the Detroit Red Wings on the 11th of March, saw the team record their 50th win of the regular season.
The Bruins have now become the fastest NHL team ever to hit 50 wins, doing so in just 64 regular season games, and they remain on course to secure the most wins ever in an NHL regular season. Not only that, but the defeat of Detroit also saw them clinch a play-off spot with a staggering 18 games left to play.
(Are The Bruins The BEST Team Of All Time?)
The Bruins are now hot favorites to lift the Stanley Cup according to the very latest live betting. Not bad for a team that finished last season sixth in the East, and lost to the Hurricanes in the first round of the playoffs. At the start of the season, NHL.com had the Bruins 15th in its preseason power rankings, ESPN and Bleacher Report ranked them 14th, and The Seattle Times put them 11th. So just who is Jim Montgomery, the man behind this incredible turnaround?
Early Playing Career
Born in Quebec, Montgomery joined the University of Maine in 1990 and won numerous awards, establishing himself as one of the best prospects in hockey. Named an All-Star 3 years running, he also claimed the NCAA tournament championship MVP when captaining Maine to the 1993 National Championship. He became Maine’s all-time leading scorer with 301 points on 103 goals and 198 assists and is one of only three players to have had their number retired by the school.
Professional Playing Career
The Canadian played in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues, Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers, San Jose Sharks, and Dallas Stars but never hit the heights his potential had suggested. His career took him around the world and eight different leagues, including spells in Germany and Russia, before retiring in 2005 after a season with Missouri River Otters.
Before becoming the Stars head coach, Montgomery was the head coach at the University of Denver for five seasons from 2013-14 through 2017-18. Denver went to two Frozen Fours and won an NCAA championship under Montgomery in 2016-17.
Montgomery sprung to prominence when he was named head coach of the United States Hockey League franchise Dubuque Fighting Saints and took them to the USHL championship in his first year. A feat he repeated in the 2012–13 season.
In 2016 he led the Denver Pioneers to the Frozen Four and in 2017 took them to the National Championship game and was subsequently named the Spencer Penrose national coach of the year. That success saw him installed as head coach of the Dallas Stars in the NHL and Montgomery took them to their first playoff appearance in three years.
In 2019 the Stars fired Montgomery for "unprofessional conduct inconsistent with the core values and beliefs of the Dallas Stars and the National Hockey League." In 2020, Montgomery checked himself into rehab to deal with alcohol abuse and claimed that firing him was the right decision.
In 2022 the St. Louis Blues gave Montgomery a two-year contract to serve as an assistant coach under Craig Berube. His rehabilitation and positive effect on the team saw the Bruins decide to take a chance, appointing him as head coach and replacing Bruce Cassidy.
Highly regarded in coaching circles
Fans and players of the St. Louis Blues were disappointed to lose Montgomery, such has been his impact, and the consistent success throughout his early coaching career proves he’s no one-season wonder.
In an interview with the Denver Post in 2020, Montgomery said of his battles with alcohol and subsequent sacking: “Right now I’m a much better person and I think I’m going to be a much better coach because of everything that’s happened,”. The way Boston is breaking records this season it’s hard to argue against that.
Can the Bruins be stopped?
After all he has been through in his career and personal life, Jim Montgomery is back where he wants to be, and it looks like he’s making up for lost time. The Boston Bruins are on course to dominate the NHL this year and beyond, with seemingly only a salary cap potentially getting in the way. It’s beginning to look like the second coming of Jim Montgomery has been well worth the wait.