NHL analyst: Bruins have 'really, really good coach' in Montgomery originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The NHL has seen a ton of head coach turnover since the end of the 2021-22 regular season.
The B's waited almost two months before naming Cassidy's replacement. They were the third-to-last of those 10 teams to hire a head coach, and all seven of the other franchises passed on Jim Montgomery.
The Bruins didn't pass on Montgomery, and they're now reaping the rewards.
Montgomery has done a phenomenal job in Boston, installing a system that plays at a faster pace and empowers the players to use their skill, especially in offensive situations. The results speak for themselves. The Bruins own the league's best record at 20-3-0, while also scoring the second-most goals (92) and allowing the fewest goals (49).
If those seven teams had a do-over, many of them probably would pick Montgomery to lead their team.
I thought the teams that didn’t hire Jim missed out. I think he’s really innovative, players respond to him.
Gary Lawless on teams that passed on hiring Jim Montgomery
"Monty played for the Manitoba Moose up in Winnipeg in the IHL. That’s one of the first teams I ever covered in pro hockey," Vegas Golden Knights team insider Gary Lawless told NBC Sports Boston last week. "He was a really good player at that level. I’ll be honest, I think the Bruins -- you can argue whether they should have fired Bruce. That’s just what happens with coaches, right? You take them to the playoffs six years running, and the year they lost to St. Louis in the Stanley Cup Final, I don’t think you can put that on him. In Game 7, I think Tuukka Rask didn’t have a great game. I thought the Bruins should have won that year. He got a lot out of a roster that – the Bruins’ roster, for me, when Tampa Bay won, it was never as good as Tampa’s. And they were really close, right?
"When I heard Jim Montgomery’s name in a couple of places, and they didn’t hire him, and then Boston made its move a little later on and fired Bruce, and then hired Jim, I thought the teams that didn’t hire Jim missed out. I think he’s really innovative, players respond to him.
"He’s gone through some adversity off the ice, and those people who get through those situations often have a humility about themselves and they’re also reinvigorated. They know they’re getting a second chance and want to take advantage of it. I think Jim Montgomery is a really, really good coach. I think it would be fun to see Bruce and Jim going at it head-to-head."
Montgomery and Cassidy will go head-to-head for the first time as coaches of their new teams Monday night when the Bruins host the Golden Knights at TD Garden.
It's a potential Stanley Cup Final preview as Boston leads the Eastern Conference and Vegas sits atop the Western Conference.
Sometimes a fresh coaching voice is needed, even when the team isn't lacking success. Cassidy's firing was a controversial move in Boston, but it's clearly worked out for both the Bruins and Golden Knights -- two teams that look reinvigorated and very motivated to prove doubters wrong and get back to playing hockey in June.