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Jim Montgomery, with his upbeat attitude, has to help the Bruins win more games. He’s grateful he has the chance.

Bruins chairman Jeremy Jacobs (far left), CEO Charlie Jacobs (right), and new coach Jim Montgomery all took a positive outlook on the Bruins for this season.Steven Senne/Associated Press

Shortly after agreeing June 30 to coach the Bruins, Jim Montgomery placed a phone call to Patrice Bergeron. He connected with Jake DeBrusk and about half the current roster. He began making plans to start the year without the injured Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy.

He is positive on the outlook of the Bruins, twice noting in Monday’s introductory press conference that his new club won 51 games last year. He believes he can wring more offense out of the group while retaining its long-successful defensive structure.

He is once again trying to win hockey games. He is grateful for the chance to do so.


“I’m very fortunate that I have a lot of great people in my life, a lot of good mentors,” said Montgomery, whose alcohol use led to his termination as Dallas Stars coach two seasons ago.

Montgomery said he is now into his 30th month of sobriety, a lifestyle change that began after Dallas general manager Jim Nill fired him with cause in Dec. 2019, citing unprofessional conduct. Montgomery, who arrived from the University of Denver and led the Stars to the playoffs as a first-year NHL coach, was out of a job three months into his second season.

“I think everybody has ups and downs in life, and if you learn from them, you grow, you get better,” said Montgomery, 53. “I think good things happen. I’m just grateful it’s happened.”

It took Montgomery about nine months after his firing, he estimated, to understand how to operate as a sober person in hockey’s drinking culture. For someone in recovery, life changes mean new guardrails must be put in place.

“When you have a daily routine and people in your life who help you, it’s not hard no matter where you are,” said Montgomery, whose wife, Emily, and children JP (13), Colin (11), Ava (7) and Olivia (4) were in attendance Monday. “There’s a lot of people everywhere who are in the same boat as me.”


He wants to be a positive influence on them.

“I have already,” he said. “Former teammates. People I’ve coached already, so you can imagine how youthful they are. It’s incredibly therapeutic to be able to be part of something like that.”

Jim Montgomery was introduced as Bruins coach on Monday.Steven Senne/Associated Press

Of course, it wasn’t the only discussion topic with Boston brass. General manager Don Sweeney said last week in Montreal that he dove into Montgomery’s two seasons in St. Louis, working with forwards and running the penalty kill under Craig Berube, about the prospective hire’s view of the roster. Team president Cam Neely said he was attracted to Montgomery’s “philosophy of getting our defensemen to move a little bit more on the offensive blueline,” to “create offense from being a little bit more fluid.”

They left convinced Montgomery, the coach and person, had earned a second chance.

“It really was a long conversation,” Montgomery said. “I don’t think it was only one — it was probably three separate conversations. I think they realized for me and my life, sobriety, family and hockey are the three most important things now.”

Montgomery, a winger who spent eight years in the minors and played 122 NHL games for the Blues, Canadiens, Flyers, and Stars, said he is a product of his influences. He credited his coach at the University of Maine, Shawn Walsh, for his communication style. He took teaching points from Maine assistant Grant Standbrook (“I’d never seen a guy teach one-on-one as well,” he said). During his time as a Flyers minor-leaguer, he studied his AHL coach, Bill Barber. “Very influential with holding players accountable to results,” Montgomery said. “If you weren’t producing, he was going to let you know.”


Add in some of Dave Tippett’s creativity, Ken Hitchcock’s structure, Randy Carlyle’s acumen for defensive breakouts, and Craig Berube’s handling of the dressing room, and you’ve got the 29th head coach of the Bruins.

“I don’t have any real original thoughts,” Montgomery said. “I do take really good lessons learned from other intelligent people I’ve been fortunate enough to be around.”

Montgomery said he interviewed with three other teams, which he did not name (the Jets and Golden Knights are believed to be two of them). He said his Boston interview process included a two-hour phone call, a four-hour interview, another two-hour interview, “and a nice dinner.” Sweeney said the coaching candidates also had to fill out a lengthy questionnaire.

“Jim just resonated with us,” he said, “from his presentation of what he wanted to do, his conviction of getting an opportunity and feeling that he was going to be a much-improved coach in a second opportunity.

Just a constant evolvement of Jim as a hockey coach. He’s a student of the game the same way he’s a teacher of the game.”

Montgomery pitched the brass on how he wanted the Bruins to play — possess the puck, create high-danger chances, feature an active blueline and four lines with their own identities — and responded to how he’d handle different situations.


Of immediate concern: He won’t start his tenure with two of his best players, Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy. Both will miss a sizable chunk of the first half recovering from double hip surgery and shoulder surgery, respectively.

“We probably have four aces on our team, and two of them are out,” Montgomery said. “We’re trying to play poker without two aces. Not a good place to start. But with that, early in the season, there’s a lot of players who want more opportunity. Forwards that want opportunity on the half-wall on the power play, other people who want to get on the first power play. If we have success early in their growth, when we get those two aces back, maybe now we have six aces.”

Sweeney is ready to let him play the Bruins’ hand.

“He checked the boxes,” Sweeney said, “of a winning history, a coach that has an open mind to communication as well as an evolving style of play.”

Matt Porter can be reached at matthew.porter@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyports.