Is it time for the Boston Bruins to move on from coach Jim Montgomery?

Before we get into the necessary offseason moves by the Boston Bruins, everyone has been asking whether the team should replace or retain coach Jim Montgomery after another disappointing Stanley Cup playoff exit.

The Bruins have enjoyed regular-season success under Montgomery during his two seasons in Boston. The team set new single-season records for points (135) and wins (65) in 2022-23 but suffered a first-round loss to the Florida Panthers and Boston’s historic season went all for naught. The Bruins finished second in the Atlantic Division with a 47-20-15 record for 109 points this season. After dismissing the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round, Boston fell to the Panthers in six games and failed to advance to the Eastern Conference Final.

So, should the Bruins fire Montgomery?

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Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery watches from the bench during the playoff series against the Florida Panthers.
Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery watches from the bench during the playoff series against the Florida Panthers.

Based on management’s previous coaching decisions, the answer is simple — yes. After losing to the St. Louis Blues in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final on TD Garden ice in 2019, the Bruins have yet to advance past the second round, which was one reason the Bruins fired Bruce Cassidy and replaced him with Montgomery. Cassidy quickly landed a job with the Vegas Golden Knights and went on to win the Stanley Cup last June. Montgomery’s postseason Bruins have been subpar.

It’s difficult, almost unfair, to compare seasons because there are so many variables, but it’s difficult to ignore that the Bruins are 22-27 in the playoffs on home ice, including 2-8 in their last 10 games, since Game 3 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Bruins simply lack the same winning instinct they created when they won the Cup in 2011 by defeating the Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Vancouver Canucks.

Then-Bruins coach Claude Julien, along with a seasoned veteran core, had that team prepared and it finished the job. Cassidy had the Bruins ready in 2019, but some terrible decisions by the players in Game 7 against the Blues, along with the lack of puck luck, ultimately led to Boston’s agonizing loss. Since then, the Bruins haven’t been built for postseason success.

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Bruins center Danton Heinen checks Florida Panthers center Sam Bennett during the second period in Game 6.
Bruins center Danton Heinen checks Florida Panthers center Sam Bennett during the second period in Game 6.

General manager Don Sweeney has done a solid job building a successful roster and has navigated the salary cap and trade markets with the best interest of the club in mind. After Patrice Bergeron retired following the 2022-23 season, Brad Marchand assumed the duties of a captain and served that role well in 2023-24. He had control of the room and provided a veteran voice for the coaching staff. This spring, the Bruins lacked the offensive firepower and it was evident during their loss to the Panthers.

So, the blame could fall on the coach. It’s unlikely, however, that the Bruins will part ways with Montgomery at this point, but his leash will be short moving forward. If the Bruins do decide to make a coaching change, Cranston’s David Quinn should become a serious candidate. The Bruins interviewed the former Boston University and New York Rangers coach prior to hiring Montgomery in 2022. Quinn spent the last two seasons as coach of the San Jose Sharks but recently was let go by the team after two difficult seasons.

On the ice, goalie Jeremy Swayman is the Bruins’ best player. He’s proved that during both the regular season and playoffs. The 25-year-old netminder is a restricted free agent and Sweeney should lock down Swayman with a long-term contract this summer. He deserves it, especially since he’s beginning the prime of his career. That should also allow Sweeney to finally find a trading partner for goalie Linus Ullmark, who has one year and $5 million remaining on his contract. The two masked men have built a strong bond but there’s room for only one in Boston and Swayman is the future.

It also helps that P-Bruins goalie Brandon Bussi, 25, appears ready to make the jump to the NHL and could serve as a solid complement to Swayman.

Sweeney’s main priority this offseason is to bring in more offensive production. David Pastrnak recorded another impressive season with 47 goals and 63 assists for 110 points in 82 games. He provided only eight points in 13 playoff games. During the regular season, Marchand (67 points), Charlie Coyle (60) and Pavel Zacha (59) were the top point-getters after Pastrnak. In the playoffs, that production went south based on each opponent's ability to match up against the Bruins’ offensive threats.

Boston needs more and Sweeney will have at least $20 million in cap space this offseason to get it done.

Forward Jake DeBrusk is an unrestricted free agent and the Bruins should finally part ways with the 27-year-old homegrown talent. He led the Bruins with five goals and six assists for 11 points in 13 playoff games, but his lack of urgency to get back on his feet after partially blocking a shot in Game 7 led to the Panthers game-tying goal. He’s been too inconsistent during his career. No doubt he’s seeking a huge pay day as a UFA and the Bruins shouldn’t re-sign him.

The Bruins have other decisions looming, including the futures of UFA defensemen Matt Grzelcyk, Derek Forbort and Kevin Shattenkirk, along with forwards Danton Heinen, Patrick Maroon and James van Riemsdyk. Boston’s roster could have an entirely different look for the 2024-25 season and Sweeney’s shopping list is extensive with a focus on top-six production.

The Bruins held their season-ending exit meetings with players Sunday morning and the realization that another opportunity slipped away was to be front and center.

Changes are coming and it’ll be interesting to see how ownership and management decide on which direction to go.

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: After another playoff exit, should Bruins replace coach Jim Montgomery?