BOSTON — The messaging was simple and unmistakable from new Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery as he officially takes over behind the Black and Gold bench with Monday’s introductory press conference at TD Garden.
The former Dallas Stars and University of Denver head coach knows he’s inheriting a 51-win hockey team ready to compete for the playoffs and beyond this upcoming season, and his first phone call to his new players was to captain Patrice Bergeron. He knows that there’s already talent and a roster blessed with some elite players, but Montgomery wants to work to coax even more offense out of a team that’s going to be missing Charlie McAvoy and Brad Marchand for the first couple of months.
“This is a 51-win team last year, so I think the staff did a really good job last year,” said Montgomery. “Moving forward, I think there’s areas that, I’m hoping with new, different style…every coach has a different way of coaching. That it’s going to lead to a little more offense.”
It remains to be seen where that offense is going to come from, though Boston Bruins President Cam Neely referenced more movement from the defenseman along the offensive blue line.
The Bruins finished 15th in the NHL with a 3.09 goals against average during the regular season and they famously had major difficulties producing offense on the road vs. Carolina during the first round of the playoffs. So the goal of pumping up the offense is one that’s realistic for Montgomery and Co. provided Bergeron, and perhaps David Krejci too, ends up returning for one more go-round with the B’s.
Montgomery also wants the Boston Bruins to get back to basics with effort and execution, and that’s certainly speaking the language of B’s fans.
“We’re gonna compete. We’re going to be a team known for their effort and execution,” said Montgomery. “Around the league I want opponents to know they better be prepared or they’re gonna be put on their heels.
“I think you have to listen. I prefer to listen before I speak. I’ll turn it back into what is always best for the team after I’ve listened to suggestions, ideas, or opinions. And we’re always going to be in this together, it’s always going to be a ‘we’ culture. But when it comes to accountability and final decisions, I will be firm there.”
The proof, as always, will be in what happens once the Boston Bruins get into the thick of the regular season, and it’s clear that Montgomery press conferences might not be as interesting as the ones with Cassidy were over the last six years. But that might be a welcome change in some corners of Causeway Street where it feels more and more readily apparent with each passing day that there were factions of B’s players pushing for a coaching change that eventually happened this summer.
“We went through a fairly wide and exhaustive interview process, we spent a number of days with our pro staff, breaking down the areas that they see both around the league and internally. We put together a pretty wide-ranging list of candidates,” said Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney. “We put together a questionnaire that each candidate – I’m very appreciative of all of the time that each and every one of them did spend – to present both from the questionnaire standpoint but also in the interview process. And we came back to getting down to final candidates, revisiting with Jim, having the chance to spend time with Emily as well. You know, Jim just resonated with us from his presentation of what he wanted to do, his conviction of getting an opportunity and feeling that he was going to be a much-improved coach in his second opportunity.
“Some of the things that we discussed in the changes that he saw under a head coach in Craig Berube and his staff in St. Louis and what he wanted to bring. Just a constant evolvement of Jim as a coach, a hockey coach. And he’s kind of a student of the game in the same way that he’s the teacher of the game. All the check points – wanting to create a little bit more, looking at our roster, acknowledging that maybe there’s areas that we can continue to improve but excited about the challenges of working with the players who are currently here as well, and getting to a higher level. For us it just checked off boxes of a winning history, a coach that has an open mind to communication as well as evolving style of play.”
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) July 11, 2022