Jim Montgomery, center, displays a Boston Bruins jersey while standing with team owner Jeremy Jacobs, left, and CEO Charlie Jacobs, right, during a July 11 news conference to introduce Montgomery as the new head coach. AP Photo/Steven Senne

When Jim Montgomery first met reporters at his introductory media conference as the new Boston Bruins coach back in July, there was still some rather important business for his boss Don Sweeney to complete.

Now, with Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci back in the fold at an astoundingly low combined cap hit of $3.5 million and Erik Haula switched out for Pavel Zacha, Montgomery’s roster is now starting to come into focus. On Friday, the Boston Herald had a chance to sit down with the former University of Maine star to get a glimpse of his vision for a team coming off a 51-win season.

Not surprisingly, Montgomery is not about to inflict wholesale changes on the operation, the culture of which he deeply respects.

But he does plan to put his imprint on it, however subtle that may or may not be. Here are a few topics that were touched upon:

• Whether it will have to wait until the team gets healthy or not, Montgomery plans to play David Pastrnak with his fellow Czech native, Krejci.

“I think with the development of Jake DeBrusk last year and how well he played with Bergy and (Brad Marchand), naturally you see the other line being a fit to give us a two-headed monster in our top two lines,” said Montgomery.


“But we know Marchie’s not going to be there early on. So we’re going to have to do some balancing, because I do want two lines that other teams have to be aware of and fear. And I think when you have Bergy and Krejci as your top two centers, it gives you the ability no matter who your wingers are to have very dominant lines. But I think it’s natural, seeing how well (Pastrnak and Krejci) played together at the World Championships, to give that an opportunity. And we always know Pasta, Bergy and Marchy. If things aren’t working, we can put that back together and the magic comes back real well.”

• With the exception of a couple of European-based players, Montgomery has touched base with all of his new players. One European he has spoken to is the most important one – Pastrnak.

“It was enlightening and put a big smile on my face, because he’s so easy-going,” said Montgomery. “The conversation was very fluid. He tells you what’s on the top of his brain, and it’s humorous, in the sense that he has such a joy for life that it comes right through the phone.”

The coach said Pastrnak did not lobby to play with Krejci.

“He goes, ‘I’ve got two great centers now!’ ” said Montgomery.

Pastrnak’s Boston future, of course, is still cloudy. He’s got one year left on his contract and, while it’s still early in the process, the two sides have not yet agreed on what would have to be a very lucrative extension to keep him here. Asked if the explosive right wing indicated that he wants to remain a Bruin for the long-term, the new coach stayed in his lane.


“I don’t know if I can say that,” said Montgomery with a chuckle. “What I do know is that I’ve been incredibly humbled by how many players, staff, auxiliary workers talk about how special it is to be a Bruin and how great place this is because of those players. Players want to be Boston Bruins because of the elite players who have been here that have been part of the success for a long time. It’s a special culture and I’m excited to learn and be a part of it.”

• The Bruins are in an odd spot as an organization. With the return of Bergeron and Krejci, there is still very much a win-now focus.

But there’s a chance this season could be it for both those venerable players, so there does need to be an eye on the future and some of the organization’s young players. Can both be done effectively?

“I think that’s part of the job now with the salary cap,” said Montgomery. “You constantly have to be developing, working on skills development with players who don’t get a lot of minutes. The most important things are results and wins, we all know that. So there are certainly players who play so many minutes. They’re not the ones who need the skill development anyways. The other players have to get more touches post practice, and that’s where our assistant coaches and myself will develop a plan to help those players come along so they can start eating more seconds and minutes incrementally in a game, which will give us four lines and six d-men that can play that can have an impact and lessen the burden on our top players.”

• Montgomery is excited for a few players who might be ready to turn a corner.

“Without being on the ice yet, it’s hard to tell. But through conversations about how they are thinking mentally, I think Jake DeBrusk is a player that the Bruins need, and he wants, to go from being an everyday consistent player to an everyday impactful player,” said Montgomery.

“I see players like Trent Frederic becoming an every-night impactful player, understanding his role. There’s eagerness in their voices to become more. I’ve heard that from guys like Mike Reilly and Derek Forbort as well, Brandon Carlo jumps off the that page. My conversations with (former University of Maine goalie) Jeremy Swayman have been incredibly positive in my sense for how eager they are to get better as professionals.”

• He plans to have some tweaks to the defensive system, but Montgomery will stick to the zone system that has been a Bruin mainstay for a decade and half.

“It goes back to ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix anything.’ I’ve always been impressed with the Bruins D-zone since Claude Julien’s days and through to (Bruce Cassidy’s) days,” said Montgomery. “They have two centermen that have done it for 15 years, minimum, and they have a third center in Charlie (Coyle) who’s been doing it a while. So we’re going to maintain that. We’re going to put in a few wrinkles that I’ve seen in studying the film and talking with assistants and Don Sweeney that we think can get us out of our zone a little quicker. But it’s basically going to be the same D-zone system.”

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