Former University of Maine star Jim Montgomery was named the Boston Bruins head coach on Friday. LM Otero/Associated Press

Tabula rasa. Blank slate. That’s what Jim Montgomery has.

It’s what Montgomery has earned and deserves.

The Bruins announced Friday afternoon that Montgomery was selected by Boston General Manager Don Sweeney as the team’s new head coach, replacing Bruce Cassidy, who was fired last month. Here in Maine, Montgomery is best known as the beloved captain of the 1993 University of Maine men’s ice hockey team.

Around the NHL, Montgomery is known as a smart, talented coach who nearly blew up his career wrestling with the same demons many of us fight. On Dec. 10, 2019, early in his second season as head coach of the Dallas Stars, Montgomery was fired for, as it was described at the time, a “personal behavior issue.” Soon after, Montgomery announced he was getting treatment for alcohol abuse.

It didn’t matter that the season before, Montgomery coached the Stars to the second round of the playoffs after the team had failed to reach the postseason the previous season. It didn’t matter that the Stars were playing well at the time of his firing. He had a problem, and it needed to be addressed. Had he not recognized his firing by the Stars as the necessary wakeup call it was, Montgomery would not be getting this second chance. This redemption story would not be written.

Had Montgomery not faced his alcohol problem head on, it would have been the end of a promising second chapter of his hockey career.


Montgomery’s 301 career points (103 goals, 198 assists in 170 games) is still tops in UMaine men’s ice hockey history, nearly 30 years after he last pulled on a Black Bears sweater. His No. 19 hangs above the ice at Alfond Arena, retired. Montgomery was at his best when the Black Bears needed him most, in his final game, the 1993 national championship. Trailing Lake Superior State 4-2 after two periods, Montgomery scored three goals in the third period to lift Maine to the 5-4 win, capping an incredible 42-1-2 season with the Black Bears first national title.

That game should be at or near the top of everybody’s list of top sports moments in Maine state history. Montgomery’s third period hat trick, with all three goals scored in just over four and a half minutes – all assisted by now-Hockey Hall of Famer Paul Kariya – has to be considered one of the greatest individual efforts in college hockey history. Montgomery the player will always have a large fan club in Maine.

Following the death of Red Gendron in April of last year, Montgomery’s name came up as a possible coach of the Black Bears. Maine Athletic Director Ken Ralph said the first call he made when starting the search for Gendron’s successor was to Montgomery, who at the time was happy working as an assistant coach with the St. Louis Blues. Still, Montgomery served on the committee that selected Ben Barr as Maine’s new coach. His ties to Orono are strong, and there’s no doubt Maine fans will love the hiring of Montgomery in Boston.

Beyond his ties to New England, and the Maine connection Montgomery shares with Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman and Boston’s goalie development coach, Mike Dunham, his teammate at Maine for three seasons, Montgomery is a good coach.

After four years as an assistant coach at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Montgomery was named head coach of the Dubuque Fighting Saints, an expansion team in the United States Hockey League, a junior league based in the Midwest. In 2010-11, the Fighting Saints’ first season, Montgomery led them to the USHL championship. Dubuque won the league title again in 2013.

Montgomery moved on to the University of Denver, where he led the Pioneers to the NCAA championship in 2017, his fourth season on the bench.


In his first season in Dallas, the Stars qualified for the playoffs for the first time in three years. The Stars were 17-11-3 when Montgomery was fired early in the 2019-20 season. After spending the last two seasons as an assistant coach with the Blues and committing himself to sobriety, Montgomery has earned the chance to be a head coach again.

It won’t be easy. The Bruins are a flawed team, with stars like Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy expected to miss the start of the season after off-season surgery. Montgomery developed young players in Dubuque and Denver. He’ll have to do that again in Boston.

Most importantly, Montgomery will have to continue working to prevent what led to his end in Dallas from happening again.

Tabula rasa. Blank slate.

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