A new name has emerged in the Golden Knights coaching search. It’s a name you may or may not remember, but if you do, it’s probably not for the best of reasons.
I heard (Jim Montgomery) had a good interview (in Las Vegas). I think he is in the mix with Winnipeg and Boston too. –Elliotte Friedman on 32 Thoughts Podcast
Jim Montgomery is the former head coach of the Dallas Stars. He was abruptly fired from the position in December 2019 for what GM Jim Nill called “unprofessional conduct.”
Nill continuously referred to a singular incident that left the team no choice but to relieve Montgomery of his duties as head coach. It’s still unclear what exactly that incident was, only that it was related to Montgomery’s alcoholism.
Losing my job as head coach of the Dallas Stars last month was a wake-up call. It was also the appropriate call. I let the team’s front office, staff, and players down. More importantly, I let my wife and my family down… I decided to get help. –Montgomery in a statement in January 2020
Following the dismissal, Montgomery checked into a rehab clinic in Dallas. He then continued therapy in his hometown of Quebec.
If you would have told me four months ago, or even three months ago, that my life would be profoundly better now than it was a year ago, I would have thought you were crazy. But I see it now. I’m living it. –Montgomery to The Athletic in May 2020
Montgomery was hired by the St. Louis Blues as an assistant in September of 2020 and has been on their staff since.
His record as a head coach was strong. He was 60-43-10 in his less than one and a half seasons with the Stars and won a round in his first postseason appearance.
His coaching style is fairly simple. He demands physicality, hard work, and discipline while also giving the players freedom to make mistakes out of aggressive play. During his time as a head coach with the NCAA’s Denver Pioneers, Montgomery detailed his seven-step process that leads to winning hockey.
1. 50 hits in a game
2. Win 60 percent of our faceoffs
3. Give up three or fewer odd-man rushes
4. Commit to blocking shots
5. Win the special teams battle
6. Win the net-front battle
7. Take zero undisciplined penalties
He said if his team does four of them they’ll probably win the game and if they do five or more it’ll likely be lopsided in their favor. Of course, these are numbers aimed at winning college hockey games, so they don’t translate exactly to the NHL level, but it gives a pretty good idea of what’s important to him.
Hiring Montgomery would obviously be a bit of a risk for a Golden Knights team expecting to be right back at the front of the line as a Cup contender. Both in that he remains fairly inexperienced as a head coach and in the fact that he would take a lot of trust that he would run with his second chance.
Vegas are expected to follow their status quo of continually chasing the new shiny toy in their coaching hire. Montgomery wouldn’t be that. If framed the right way (and having listened to and read many interviews from Montgomery, it would), it could be just the type of feel-good story the Golden Knights need.