New Bruins coach Jim Montgomery already making right calls

bruins montgomery
Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

BOSTON — Jim Montgomery has a lot of work to do to prepare for his first season as the Boston Bruins’ head coach.

He knew just where to start: by reaching out to captain Patrice Bergeron to make sure the five-time Selke Award winner will be back in a Bruins uniform for a 19th season.

“That was my first phone call,” Montgomery said on Monday at a news conference to meet the local media 10 days after he was hired to replace Bruce Cassidy.

“I don’t have to go into the locker room very much if he comes back. That was the main takeaway,” Montgomery said. “He’s got good control of what’s going on, and how to lead.”

Three years after they lost in the seventh game of the Stanley Cup Final and two years after they reached 100 points in a pandemic-shortened season, the Bruins fired Cassidy following a first-round playoff loss. Since then, top defenseman Charlie McAvoy and top scorer Brad Marchand have had surgery that will keep them out for the first two months of the season.

But much of the attention has been on the 36-year-old Bergeron, who would not commit to playing another season (while saying that, if he did return, it would only be with the Bruins). He has since told the team he is inclined to return, but he remains unsigned.

“We’re still waiting for Patrice’s word. Although news is positive. We’re getting some positive feedback,” team CEO Charlie Jacobs said. “So, fingers crossed that he returns and leads our team again next year.”

[NHL free agency tracker 2022: Full list of offseason signings]

Montgomery, 53, was fired from his first NHL head job by the Dallas Stars during the 2019-20 season with the team citing unprofessional conduct. He later called that decision “appropriate” and a “wake-up call” while announcing he was going to a rehab facility for alcohol abuse.

Montgomery, who spent the past two seasons as an assistant with the St. Louis Blues, said he has learned from his mistakes.

“Everybody has ups and downs in life. And I think if you learn from it, grow, you get better,” he said on Monday. “I think anybody can achieve good things in life if you’re willing to accept change and make change.”

Montgomery said he was excited to be taking over a team that won 51 games last year; the Bruins also went to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2019 and had the league’s best record the following season.

But that wasn’t good enough to save Cassidy’s job.

One of the complaints about Cassidy, who was quickly hired by the Vegas Golden Knights, was that he was too hard on young players. Montgomery, who said he has already reached out to about half of the roster, is known as more of a players’ coach — but only to a limit.

“I think you have to listen. And I prefer to listen before I speak,” he said. “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.”

With his family sitting in the front row of the TD Garden Legends room, Montgomery said he had already found a place to live and visited Fenway Park, where he saw the Red Sox beat the rival New York Yankees.

“So things have started off well here in Boston,” he said. “We’re excited with this rabid fan base in this great city of Boston. Be part of the Bruins family.”

Scroll Down For:

    Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

    Ilya Mikheyev
    Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

    Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

    Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

    Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

    Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

    Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports

    Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

    The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

    Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

    After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

    Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

    Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

    caufield surgery
    David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports

    MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

    But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

    “I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

    Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

    “I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

    Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

    Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

    Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

    All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

    matty beniers
    Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports

    SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

    Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

    The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

    Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

    Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.