Dallas Stars coach Jim Montgomery is so predictable. From junior-A to the NCAA and now the NHL, his groups at all times play their greatest hockey within the second half of the season.
Yr by 12 months, Montgomery grooms his groups in a methodical style.
He did it in three seasons with the junior-A Dubuque Preventing Saints, and for 5 years on the College of Denver, and now could be doing it in his first season within the NHL.
Montgomery received two United States Hockey League championships with Dubuque to get him in place to switch George Gwozdecky at DU, and what he did with the Pioneers is nothing wanting legendary: 5 NCAA Event appearances, together with 4 journeys to the Elite Eight, two to the Frozen 4 and profitable the 2017 nationwide championship.
That put him in place to not solely coach at hockey’s highest stage however to turn out to be a head coach with none expertise behind an NHL bench. Montgomery, 49, instructed me he would by no means go away DU to turn out to be an NHL assistant, as a result of he thought of Denver the very best faculty job within the nation, and since he knew he would carry his head teaching success into the NHL.
He was proper. Since getting back from all-star break, the Stars had been 17-10-2 and had ranked second within the Western Convention in factors (36, trailing solely St. Louis) getting into Saturday’s recreation at Vancouver. Dallas took a seven-game profitable streak on the highway into Vancouver and was 8-1 in its final 9 video games outdoors Texas.
The Stars had been within the place to clinch a playoff spot with a win towards the Canucks. Dallas missed the playoffs the final two years whereas underneath the path of Lindy Ruff and Ken Hitchcock, respectively.
Montgomery, who constructed the DU crew that performed for the West Regional championship on Saturday, credit his gamers for purchasing into a brand new construction in January when the Stars had been out of the playoff image. He requested them to ditch the run-and-gun and play tighter protection, providing extra assist to goaltenders Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin — maybe the NHL’s greatest tandem.
Montgomery coached an analogous approach in his first two years at DU, when the expertise wasn’t pretty much as good because it grew to become. In his final three years with the Pioneers, it was a north-style assault all the way in which as a result of he had the horses.
All NCAA and NHL coaches are extremely smart and create an identification based mostly on what they’ve. However the extremely affable Montgomery merely will get extra out of what he has. When Montgomery was employed by DU in 2013, I interviewed former NHL stars Paul Kariya and John LeClair for an introductory story on Montgomery, who performed with Kariya on the College of Maine and with LeClair for the Philadelphia Flyers.
They each mentioned Montgomery was destined for greatness at DU and past.
“His hockey IQ is the very best I’ve ever seen, and he’s clearly taken that into teaching,” Kariya instructed me on the time. “I’ve little doubt that Denver could be very fortunate to have him and he’s going to do an amazing job there.”
Montgomery’s presents go far past the sport.
“He has a heat persona and folks can relate to him actually shortly. And he’s sensible,” LeClair mentioned. “When you will have a very good persona and are sensible like that, it’s simple to make buddies, simple to get folks to belief you, and I feel he’s had a lot success as a result of folks actually purchase into what he’s doing.”
I wrote about Montgomery in September when Dallas performed a preseason recreation in Denver. He instructed me he was already extra assured as an NHL coach than an NHL participant, as a result of he by no means knew the place he stood as a participant.
Montgomery already knew he was going to steer the Stars into the playoffs.