The St. Louis Blues had an assistant coaching vacancy. A former coach of a division rival was in need of a job. It all came together.
The St. Louis Blues were looking for a new assistant coach after Marc Savard left the team to spend more time with family. In theory, the Blues could have gotten away with a smaller staff or promoted from within, but instead they brought in a former rival.
Jim Montgomery, the former coach of the Dallas Stars, will now be behind the bench for the Blues. This time, instead of going toe to toe with Craig Berube, they will be on the same side, trying to achieve the same thing.
Montgomery had success with the Stars. He went a combined 61-43-10 in Dallas.
Blues fans will also know that Montgomery had this team within a whisker of the Western Conference Final in 2019. If not for Jay Bouwmeester‘s goal line stand, the Stars would have won that Game 7 in overtime and the Blues would have been left a bridesmaid once again.
Instead, Pat Maroon became the hometown hero. Montgomery’s green machine was sent packing and left to wait.
Montgomery was shockingly removed from his post behind the bench of the Stars in December, 2020. It was not immediately known why, other than the Stars saying it was unprofessional conduct.
In May of 2020, Montgomery came clean that he was dealing with alcoholism.
“The day I was let go by the Stars, incredible shame and guilt to have my family name, to tell your wife who has warned you that you lost your job because of this,” Montgomery said, reported by Sam Ficarro in SportingNews. “My two oldest children are boys, 10 and eight, and I have to tell them you lost your job, not because the team was losing but because of your own actions and behaviors and your addiction to alcohol is really, really hard.”
At that time, Montgomery merely said he hoped to get back into coaching because it was still his passion. He had worked his way up the ranks from college coach at the University of Denver to a head coach in the NHL.
He won’t be the main man, but he’s back in the bigs. The Blues have given him a second chance.
Perhaps it was meant to be. Montgomery got his second chance as a player with the Blues.
He went undrafted originally. The Blues signed him as a free agent and he made his NHL debut as a player in 1993-94. Montgomery would score six goals and 20 points that season.
Despite playing 67 games that year, Montgomery never quite caught on. He would play for Montreal, Philadelphia, San Jose and Dallas, but never more than 28 games in one year.
Now, Montgomery returns to St. Louis and perhaps he can provide some insider knowledge. The Stars are trying to replace the Blues as Stanley Cup champions, but next season Montgomery might give the Blues a slight edge on how to shut down guys he used to coach up.
Montgomery has signed a two-year deal with the Blues. It is not immediately clear if he will take over Savard’s duties of running the power play. Dallas was right around league average on the man advantage when Montgomery was coach.