'Can’t hide from past,' says Bruins coach Montgomery
New Boston Bruins coach Jim Montgomery isn’t hiding from his past and says it’s easier to be open and honest about his struggles with addiction as time goes on.
Montgomery joined TSN 1200 on Tuesday to discuss his recent hiring by the Bruins and the path he has taken since being fired by the Dallas Stars in December 2019 for “unprofessional conduct inconsistent with the core values and beliefs of the Dallas Stars and the National Hockey League.”
Soon after his dismissal, Montgomery released a statement saying he had entered an inpatient rehab program for alcohol abuse.
The Montreal native returned to a role behind the bench in 2020-2021, spending two seasons as an assistant under Craig Berube with the St. Louis Blues before landing the head coaching position with the Bruins.
Montgomery initially had doubts he would find work in the NHL again so quickly, having acknowledged that his firing was the “appropriate call.”
“Over time, as you start to work on yourself first and then get back to being a more productive self, being a part of a team again and very fortunate to work with great people [in St. Louis] … you start to see the possibilities again,” said Montgomery.
“[I’m] just very lucky to have worked with those people and very lucky to be going to work with great people [with the Bruins]."
Montgomery, 53, says the topic of his addiction was not swept under the rug during the interview process.
“It was very much a big part of every interview and I want it to be a big part of every interview because … I’ve been open and honest about it,” said Montgomery. “You can’t hide from your past. You have to learn from it, though. That’s a big part of what we discussed in every interview.”
Entering a high-pressure situation with the Bruins, Montgomery is confident he will stay on track.
“No matter where you are, when it comes to addiction, you have to stay prudent all the time,” said Montgomery.
“It’s not necessarily the more stress, per se, that causes it, it’s actually idle time that really could cause things to go, for lack of better words, haywire on yourself. It’s about connecting with people and staying prudent to what gives you success.”
Montgomery compares becoming an NHL head coach for the second time to riding a bike.
“Just like in any profession, you learn from your first time around,” said Montgomery. “The second time around, it’s more like riding a bike and maybe you wasted time and energy on the previous time and how to be more efficient, how to get things done [and] what to expect.
“I hope I’m not being vague in that, but just all around from my experience, the first time in Dallas as a first-time head coach to being an assistant coach under Craig Berube and watching him to now having a second opportunity, the expectation of what’s going to happen and how things should proceed is a lot easier.”
Now a bench boss in the Atlantic Division, Montgomery sees a bright future for the Ottawa Senators following a flurry of offseason moves.
“Where they’ve improved is their ability to put the puck in the net in a lot of different ways,” he said. “They have depth scoring now. I think they have a terrific coach in D.J. [Smith] and now they’re starting to build that three-headed monster on the backend.
“They’re starting to march towards being one of those teams in the NHL that you know are going to be there every night and competing for playoffs.”