By: Theo Lander | Follow me on Twitter @lander_theo
On Monday, the 29th head coach in Boston Bruins history, Jim Montgomery, faced the media for the first time along with his new colleagues Don Sweeny, Cam Neely, Jeremy Jacobs, and Charlie Jacobs. We got the chance to hear from Montgomery himself on what direction he believes this team will go and how he plans on executing that. Here are the main takeaways from Monday’s presser.
Communication is Key
Throughout the presser, it seemed like Montgomery and company circled back to the sentiment that communication is vital for this team. This was noted as Montgomery’s leading strength and one of the crucial qualities that the Bruins were looking for in their next coach. Montgomery clarified, “You have to listen, and I prefer to listen before I speak, and then I’ll turn it back into what is always best for the team after I’ve listened to suggestions, ideas, or opinions.” He continued, “We’re always going to be in this together, it’s going to be a ‘we’ culture, but when it comes to accountability and final decisions, I will be firm there.” Montgomery also mentioned that he has already called half the roster to introduce himself, which indicates that the new coach practices what he preaches.
One of the offseason’s most prominent question marks would be the potential return of Patrice Bergeron. As the team’s most recent captain and the reigning Frank J. Selke award winner, the Boston Bruins stand a lot to gain from his return. Reports have been circulating over the past few weeks, signaling that Patrice is likely to return. Team general manager Don Sweeney gave his perspective on the situation, “Real positive indications, (he’s) gone through his rehab and spent time with his family and indicated that he’ll come out in short order to make his declaration, but things have tracked in all the right lines there.” Also, for what it’s worth, Montgomery mentioned that Patrice Bergeron was the first player that he reached out to.
Another center that the Bruins would love to have back is none other than David Krejci. The Bruins certainly missed him at the second-line center position, and his return would be one way to address the concerns of depth, especially down the middle. As reports circled ahead of this press conference, it became clear that Krejci’s return was a real possibility. When asked about #46, Don Sweeney indicated that there was some truth to the rumors, “Recently, I’ve had numerous conversations with David Krejci about what his plans are. He spent a lot of time with his family as well, and his decision could be forthcoming, and we’re hopeful that it’s with us. I think that we would welcome him back, we said that to him last year, we left the door open, and you know, we have to make the pieces of the puzzle fit together financially in the ‘cap world,’ but I’ll do everything I possibly can to make that happen.”
The Firing of Bruce Cassidy
Bruce Cassidy being let go came as an unpleasant surprise to much of the fanbase. Cassidy was beloved by the fans and had been able to produce winning seasons despite working with what some would describe as an incomplete roster. During this time, many alluded to rumors that he had “lost the locker room” as justification for his firing. When asked why the brass thought they had to make a coaching change instead of a head of hockey operations change, Charlie Jacobs responded with, “The Boston Bruins have been to the Stanley Cup finals three times in the past eleven years under Cam Neely’s tenure, and I want to say that we have somewhere around a six hundred plus winning percentage under our general manager’s tenure.
The head coach is frankly the responsibility of the general manager, in our opinion, and he has to be accountable for that. Likewise, the president is accountable to the general manager. So, if they come to us and say, hey, listen, we think this might be in the best interest; we’re, of course, going to follow their lead. They’re empowered to make those decisions, and it’s not our job to interfere with them but rather to empower them to make those types of decisions and support them.” A follow-up question was then asked concerning whether or not Bruce would still be the head coach if Sweeney had recommended it. Jacobs reiterated, “Again, this is Don’s decision, and it’s Cam’s responsibility to support Don, and I would say it works that way in arguably the other 31 markets in the National Hockey League.”
This Team’s Direction
It would appear that this Boston Bruins team is at a bit of a crossroads. Many say they should have a full rebuild at this point, while others are hoping they make one more run at the Stanley Cup with Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci potentially returning. “It would be awfully difficult to sell (off assets) in this market to our fanbase…We’re a cap team, meaning that we’re going to spend to the max to deliver the best product we possibly can to our fans, and that is not going to change. So in that regard, I would hope that people could put that in their back pocket and understand that we are committed to winning a Stanley Cup, and we will do whatever it takes to get us to that threshold again.”
At the end of it all, the sentiment remains the same. The Bruins are going to do everything they can to make a run at winning the Stanley Cup. While we’re still waiting on the official decisions from Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, all indications are trending positively at this point. As for Jim Montgomery, he seems committed to being as transparent as possible with his players and hopeful that his insistence on proper communication will help lead this team to success.