Jim Montgomery has taken a lot of shit this year. He’s deserved a lot of it too. This was a mediocre team at best for most of the season until around the All Star break. Then, suddenly, they started to play better. Sean Shapiro published an interview with Montgomery that goes into what went down a little bit.
One of the keys to being a successful person I’ve found is the willingness to adjust by reflecting about yourself, and the role you play in making success happen. Montgomery apparently went down this path hard at the All Star break.
“I read articles, watched games, just did that type of research,” Montgomery said. “What can we do to excel at that? And what can we do to give us a chance to make us consistently successful?”
Perfect. Even if the Stars had fallen short of their goal that’s all you can ask of someone if you trust their ability to do a job.
Two things really stick out to me about the interview. One, Montgomery got the leadership core engaged and taking ownership of the situation.
Montgomery sat down with Stars captain Jamie Benn and the rest of the leadership group. He held a summit to define what Stars hockey was going to look like for the remainder of the 2018-19 season.
“The players talked about how we need to be relentless. How when we play a relentless style, (with) a ‘let’s go hunt’ attitude, we are in a pretty good spot and that’s what we need to be.”
Two, he stopped trying to fit square pegs into round holes. This team doesn’t have the offensive firepower down the lineup to go toe to toe with the top offensive teams in the league offensively.
“I was fortunate in junior hockey I had teams that could score, you know what I mean? So we didn’t have to adopt that type of mentality. At Denver, we had to adopt that and we had to change the way we played the last six weeks of the regular season.”
“I’m never going to go away from my belief that you have to pressure and possess the puck,” Montgomery said. “But some players just don’t hang on to pucks long enough, they don’t protect pucks well enough for us to do certain things. That’s why we did more one-on-one video.”
Roope Hintz has clearly taken to this with a 42 point pace since the break. Radek Faksa looks better. Jason Dickinson has shown more offensive flashes. We’ve seen how absurdly good Mats Zuccarello looks fitting into the group. Alexander Radulov can’t stop scoring. For the younger players though it took trust from the guys in charge.
Montgomery deserves credit for steering the ship back in the right direction. Getting the leadership core on track and buying in, especially after Jim Lites ripped them to shreds, was key. Once they set the tone it makes everything else easier. Right around this time Montgomery was clearly frustrated publicly.
Good for him for taking that frustration, and turning it into positive results.