Montgomery Has Work to Do at Denver
Introduced as New Head Coach Monday
CHN Staff Report
Jim Montgomery was officially introduced as Denver's new coach Monday. He replaces George Gwozdecky, who was recently fired after 19 seasons.
"It's an honor for me to lead take over this fantastic program," Montgomery said. "I've been amazed with where the leadership here wants to take this program moving forward."
Denver athletic director Peg Bradley-Doppes, who still hasn't publicly addressed the reasons for firing Gwozdecky, said Montgomery rose above the other candidates.
“From the onset of our search Jim Montgomery was at the top of our list and it is an absolute pleasure to welcome him to the Pioneer family,” Bradley-Doppes said. “Jim has all of the attributes needed to successfully take the reins of our hockey program – a commitment to excellence, integrity and superb hockey acumen to name just a few. He has won at every level and most importantly, he has comported himself with class and dignity at every stop.”
Montgomery was most recently head coach of Dubuque in the USHL junior league for three seasons. Prior to that, he was assistant coach at RPI under Seth Appert, who also interviewed for the job before receiving a contract extension. Another former Denver assistant, Derek Lalonde, and current Boston College assistant Greg Brown also interviewed for the job.
"I made that step (to go to Dubuque) because I didn't have any head coaching experience," Montgomery said. "I wanted the experience of creating my own culture. It's more about creating a team-first attitude, and everyone working together. Our teams will execute with a tremendous amount of effort."
Montgomery has the tough task of replacing Gwozdecky, but he expressed understanding of that situation.
"Coach Gwozdecky has had a tremendous career," Montgomery said. "The reason this job is one that, for me, is one of the best jobs, not only in college hockey, but in hockey, is because of the success and tradition established by Coach Gwozdecky.
"I called George on Saturday and I had a great conversation with George. I was just floored by George's response. He offered his help. He (asked if I) wanted to meet for lunch. It speaks volumes about the character of him and what he's about. In my success at Maine, that's what Shawn Walsh tauight me, the program is bigger than us. It's about all of us trying to build great things together."
Montgomery is a 1993 graduate of Maine, where he helped lead the Black Bears to a national championship during his senior season. He is most famously known for scoring a hat trick in the third period of the championship game, helping Maine rally to defeat Lake Superior State. Montgomery is Maine's all-time leading scorer with 301 points on 103 goals and 198 assists in 170 career games.
He was thought to be a strong candidate for Maine's head coaching opening, but told the Bangor (Maine) Daily News recently that he was not contacted about the open position since Tim Whitehead was fired last week.
Montgomery said he knows he has a job mending fences.
"It's not easy, but you pick up the phone. You have to have a lot TLC," Montgomery said. "Reaching out with notes and phone calls to the vast and expansive and talented alumni. What they've been able to achieve is because of the University of Denver. I want to be part of this tradition. ... This infrastructure is built to win. The pillars are there."
Denver has lost a series of players to the pros after Gwozdecky was let go.
"The nature of college hockey has changed. Six players have left DU here in the last two years," Montgomery said. "We want talented hockey players, but great student-athletes that will represent the school at a high level on and off the ice. ... There pressure is on those young men to sign. It's a hard culture to break.
"The depth isn't what you'd like it to be, but our roster is loaded with talent and I look forward to working with them. Is it a rebuilding year? I don't know. I havent had chance to watch the team."
Montgomery spent parts of six seasons in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues (1993-94), Montreal Canadiens (1994-95), Philadelphia Flyers (1994-95 and 1995-96), San Jose Sharks (2000-01) and Dallas Stars (2001-02 and 2002-03).