For Jim Montgomery and the Boston Bruins, it all comes down to communication.
Despite Bruce Cassidy’s outstanding record in the win-loss column as Bruins head coach, he had already arrived in Boston with a reputation for communication problems with his players. That ostensibly came to a head after the 2021-22 season, when the Bruins suddenly dismissed Cassidy from his post and eventually replaced him with former Stars head coach Jim Montgomery.
And communication is where the team expects Montgomery to be an improvement over Cassidy and, hopefully, make a noticeable difference.
Ty Anderson and I discussed this very topic as part of the newest episode of the Sports Hub Underground podcast, which you can hear above. The Bruins talk starts around the 13:51 mark. Ty believes that Montgomery was brought in to more-or-less run the same system the Bruins ran under Cassidy, but do so while communicating better with the players and, hopefully, getting the most out of them.
“I think the communication will be better, based on what players have said, based on what I’ve heard,” Ty said. “I think communication between players and the coaching staff will be better. I think more often than not, the locker room will run itself, with guys like Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand and David Krejci, just kind of who they are. … But I think if a player is saying, ‘Hey, I’m playing like crap, I feel like crap, what can I do?’ I feel like that door will be more open than it was [with Cassidy].
“Not to say it wasn’t open, but it’s more of an open door than a half-closed door, if that makes sense. I think that can help younger players.”
Dec 1, 2019; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Dallas Stars head coach Jim Montgomery looks on in the third period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports
Winger Jake DeBrusk stands to benefit the most from the Bruins’ coaching change, based on his well-documented history of problems with Cassidy’s communication style. Trent Frederic is another young forward who felt lost in his most recent season as a pro. The hope is Montgomery encourages Frederic to play to his strengths, rather than try to be something he’s not.
Another Bruin to watch on this front is defenseman Brandon Carlo, who recently opened up in The Athletic on his lack of confidence in recent years.
Forward Anton Blidh was also among the young Bruins players to publicly voice his displeasure with his playing time and lack of communication with Cassidy about it. Blidh signed a one-year deal with the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche in August.
Cassidy’s dismissal surprised a lot in the Boston area, and it’s obvious that it had little to do with the actual on-ice results. But off the ice, there’s optimism that Montgomery will bring the best out of players who haven’t played up to their potential over the past few seasons.
You can hear more of our thoughts on this and everything Bruins as training camp gets underway on the Sports Hub Underground, which comes out every Thursday at 985TheSportsHub.com.
Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. You can also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.