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NHL Rumors: Jim Montgomery, Bruins Agree to Contract as Boston's New HC

Erin WalshJuly 1, 2022

Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Boston Bruins have finally found their replacement for Bruce Cassidy.

Boston is hiring former Dallas Stars head coach Jim Montgomery as its next bench boss, according to Joe McDonald of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. The deal is expected to be in the neighborhood of three years and $2 million annually, per ESPN's Kevin Weekes.

Joe McDonald @JoeyMacHockey

Former Bruin and current NHL player on Montgomery: “Jim Montgomery is great coach and even better person. The guys will love playing for him and he will make this team a contender.”

Montgomery was one of three reported finalists for the job, joining former New York Rangers head coach David Quinn and Seattle Kraken assistant Jay Leach, who previously coached the Providence Bruins, Boston's AHL affiliate.

The 53-year-old will become just the third head coach to be hired by the Bruins since 2007. Claude Julien coached the franchise from 2007 to '17, leading Boston to a Stanley Cup title in 2011, and Bruce Cassidy led the team from 2017 to '22.

Montgomery was hired as head coach of the Stars for the 2018-19 season and led the team to a 43-32-7 finish and a berth in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. However, he was fired just 31 games into the 2019-20 campaign for "unprofessional conduct."

Montgomery revealed one month after he was fired that he had entered rehab for alcohol abuse, calling the loss of his job a "wake-up call."

Elliotte Friedman @FriedgeHNIC

Jim Montgomery has released a statement. These are his first public comments: <a href="https://t.co/dVyGMohxnI">pic.twitter.com/dVyGMohxnI</a>

Montgomery was hired as an assistant coach for the St. Louis Blues in September 2020 and served in the role over the last two seasons. With the Canadian assisting behind the bench, St. Louis reached the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.

Montgomery also served as head coach at the University of Denver from 2013 to '18. Under his leadership, the Pioneers reached two Frozen Fours and won an NCAA championship in 2017.

He also played college hockey at the University of Maine and appeared in 122 NHL games from 1993 to 2002.

Montgomery has some big shoes to fill in Boston after the Black and Gold surprisingly fired Cassidy following a first-round playoff exit to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Cassidy served as head coach of the Bruins for six seasons, compiling a 245-108-46 record. He led the Bruins to the Stanley Cup playoffs in each of his six seasons behind the bench, including a Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 2019.

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said at the time of Cassidy's firing that he believed the team would benefit from a "new voice."

ESPN's John Buccigross later reported during a radio hit with WEEI's Merloni, Fauria & Mego that Cassidy's handling of the development of younger players and his relationship with those players likely played a role in his firing.

Buccigross said, as transcribed by WEEI's Scott McLaughlin:

“Bruce Cassidy as a coach, he’s respected, great X’s and O’s guy, knows how to game plan, how to beat the other team. It’s elite, obviously, the amount of games he won as the Bruins’ head coach. … But his communication skills and people managing, for some, have been difficult to deal with. Kind of a running commentary on the bench, which players sometimes hear and maybe they think, ‘Jeez, I wonder what he’s saying about me.’ It’s not uncommon.

“… It’s a delicate thing. The motivational tactics he uses, certainly really harsh, on young players especially. And that’s the part which, probably as the Bruins are looking to go forward with perhaps a younger core -- I don’t want to call it a rebuild -- but his voice I think was growing tired. I think players probably in the exit meetings, from what I was told, kind of voiced their opinion about him."

Throughout their head coaching search, the Bruins appeared to prioritize coaches that had a solid repertoire with younger players. So, it's no surprise that Montgomery, Leach and Quinn were the finalists given their experience with younger groups.

That said, Montgomery will be tasked with not only managing younger players in Boston, but some seasoned veterans in Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Hampus Lindholm, among others.

The Bruins still have a lot of work to do to improve the team for a Stanley Cup run in 2022-23, and hiring a new head coach is only the first step in the process.

NHL free agency begins on July 13.

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