NASHVILLE — Jim Montgomery took to the stage at Bridgestone Arena to accept the Jack Adams Award given to the league’s coach of the year.
The humbled Bruins bench boss remains grateful for his second chance in the NHL — and life in general.
Montgomery’s struggles with alcoholism prompted his departure from the Dallas Stars after nearly a season and a half. He returned to the NHL coaching ranks after his stint in rehab, accepting an assistant coaching gig in St. Louis before landing in Boston last summer.
He shared his struggles with his friends, family, and other members of his support system who helped him along the way to sobriety. On Monday, Montgomery opened up to the public during his acceptance speech.
“Three and a half years ago, the Dallas Stars terminated my contract because of alcohol, and I had to change my actions and behaviors,” Montgomery said in his speech. “That’s when my new team — the most important team in my life — is what leads to the success that I live daily right now.”
Montgomery’s on-ice success speaks for itself. But his off-ice character continues to shine three years after his recovery.
His previous struggles with alcohol hit the public shortly after his firing in Dallas. Yet, Montgomery won’t hesitate to share his backstory, be it in front of the cameras or behind closed doors.
Linus Ullmark heard Montgomery’s story. He admitted that Montgomery’s journey resonates with him, given similar struggles with alcoholism in the Ullmark family.
“For me, it hits home a little more because I’ve had it in my family as well,” Ullmark said after capturing the Vezina Award. “So for him to always be that open about it, it shows that he leaves it all out there. He’s very open, which makes you trust him.”
Montgomery gained the Bruins’ trust this season after guiding them to a record-breaking regular season. He gained further self-confidence following the darkest point of his life three years ago.
Entering his second season in Boston, Montgomery still carries a pair of essential characteristics he leaned on during his recovery.
“An attitude and gratitude,” Montgomery said of the traits he carries over to today from his stint in rehab. “I wake up every day and write down what I’m grateful for. That just sets my head straight, and it creates happiness from within, and then I’m able to spread that happiness to others.
Montgomery, Ullmark, Patrice Bergeron (who ran away with his sixth career Selke Award on Monday), David Pastrnak (who finished a distant second to Conor McDavid on the Hart Trophy ballot), and the rest of the Bruins would’ve wanted nothing more than to cap off their record-breaking regular season appropriately with Lord Stanley in tow. They’ll get a chance at redemption in 2023-24, albeit with a different-looking team from this past season.
Montgomery made the most of his second chance in life. And his story will only benefit others who encounter similar struggles with addiction.
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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