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Montgomery On Ullmark Decision: ‘I Make The Final Decision’



Boston Bruins

Since his team lost Game 7 to the Florida Panthers 4-3 in overtime, Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery has taken a lot of heat for his reply to why he didn’t make the switch in goal from Linus Ullmark to Jeremy Swayman earlier?

“We just thought he was going to give us the best chance tonight. You’d have to ask ‘Goalie Bob’ [goalie coach Bob Essensa] a little more in detail about that, but we all thought that he was going to give us the best opportunity tonight,” Montgomery said in the immediate aftermath of, statistically, the best regular season team in NHL history

That response unleashed a firestorm of interpretation that Jim Montgomery had just thrown his goalie coach Bob Essensa under the bus, rather than owning the decision himself. On Tuesday morning in the end of the season media availability with Montgomery, Boston Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs, team president Cam Neely, and general manager Don Sweeney, the first-year Bruins bench boss conveyed more accountability and took a deep dive into the decision to not switch to Swayman after Game 5.

Two questions into the press conference on Tuesday, Montgomery was asked if he’d make a different decision on the goaltending if given another chance.

“In hindsight? Absolutely,” Montgomery replied. “The mistake I made, is I try to put our players in the best position to excel. And I think with. …there’s an added mental grind in the playoffs and it takes a toll. That’s what I’ve learned through this grind is that the expectations that were put on our team going into the playoffs, there’s a price you pay. Everybody does, and I think we are going to learn from this – players, especially me, I’m going to have to learn – and I’mn going to have to help the players push through which I didn’t do this year.”

Montgomery then explained his response after Game 7, and detailed the decision-making on Ullmark.

“All season long I said ‘Goalie Bob’ [Essensa], makes the decision. …I make the final decision right? I’m the one that picks the starter,” Montgomery acknowledged. “So, it’s not ‘Goalie Bob’s decision but I really rely on him heavily. To answer your question specifically, we discuss this as a staff. I will talk in the playoffs especially even more so, with ‘Sweens’ [GM Don Sweeney], and Cam [team president Cam Neely], and in the end, we win Games 3 and 4 so you have two days off.

You think Game 5’s gonna go well and I personally spoke with Linus, and he answered me a real honest question, and took ownership of where he was at in Game 5. What he relayed to me was that you learn and you grow, and he was ready to grow and lead us to a Game 6 win, and that in the end, was what made me decide that he was our goaltender for Game 6.”

Montgomery was then asked to clarify if ‘the question was more Ullmark’s confidence and ability than his health at that point?’

“Yes,” said Montgomery, who along with Don Sweeney repeatedly stressed that Ullmark was given medical clearance to play Games 1-6 in the series.

As for the report last week by ESPN and NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes that Linus Ullmark was playing with a ‘debilitating and painful injury’, Don Sweeney had this to say about how healthy the Boston Bruins goalie was:

” I will clarify that we get a medical report every day as an organization and who’s available to us, so the statement of ‘debilitating and painful injury’ might have been more pertinent to Patrice Bergeron and his injury,” Sweeney said. “Again, we get reports as to who’s available and Linus was fully available to play. He had something that was going on very very into the season but it had cleared up for him to play. Had it not been, we certainly would’ve made a different decision. We felt very comfortable all year with the rotation we had and had confidence in both goaltenders.



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