A slow Boston Bruins start could make Jim Montgomery a fall guy

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
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 /

It’s hard to find any faults in the Boston Bruins decision to hire Jim Montgomery as the franchise’s new head coach. He’s been a winner as a college player, as a coach at the minor and pro levels. Montgomery has a solid record for developing young players.

Montgomery signed a three-year deal and it appears that the Bruins believe they can compete for a championship, while doing a better job at developing young players.

And if things don’t go well early for the new bench boss, Montgomery can easily be thrown under the bus so Bruins general manager Don Sweeney could save his own hide.

The heat should be on Sweeney. His decision to fire former Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy was met with disbelief, as fans argued that it should had been Sweeney that felt the ax after the season.

If Sweeney was not worried about his job security before firing Cassidy, certainly he heard the reactions from the fan base. And if public opinion could sway Bruins president Cam Neely or Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, then Sweeney should be sweating under his collar.

Jim Montgomery is at risk of having a short tenure as Boston Bruins head coach if the team gets off to a slow start

Montgomery is being handed over a very difficult situation in Boston. He will be without his best defenseman in Charlie McAvoy and one of his best forwards in Brad Marchand maybe until December. Matt Grzelyck may not suit up until November. And while there are rumors that captain Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci will return for the 2022-23 season, for now, that’s all it is.

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In the amount of time Montgomery will be without three of the Boston Bruins’ most important players, the team could quickly fall far behind in the Eastern Conference. If that happens, and the Bruins are unable to reach an agreement with team sniper David Pastrnak, Pastrnak trade rumors could become a distraction.

Montgomery does have a little good news. Jake DeBrusk has withdrawn his trade request. Hopefully DeBrusk remains happy. We’ll see if he stays happy if DeBrusk, and the team, struggle out the gate.

So let’s say the Boston Bruins are bad. If they switch from competing to developing young talent, what does Montgomery have to work with? Years of poor drafting and player transactions by Sweeney has left the Bruins farm system lean on talent that’s on the cusp of graduating from the Baby B’s.

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Montgomery could do everything right, but if the results on the ice aren’t good, Sweeney could fire Montgomery, even though it was Sweeney that provided Montgomery with the talent that can’t compete with the rest of the league.

Meanwhile Sweeney sits safely above the ice gets while Montgomery gets the blame.

That seat might not stay comfortable for long. It’s doubtful that Neely would fire his friend, but would Jacobs be dissatisfied enough with the Boston Bruins decline to the point he decides to clean house in the front office after the season? That’s unknown, but it’s possible.

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If Montgomery is dismissed mid-season, he gets the blame and his coaching resume takes a hit, while Sweeney gets to hang on to his job a little longer after dismissing his third coach in seven years as the Bruins GM.

Maybe Sweeney doesn’t bury Montgomery. But if Sweeney is fired at the end of the season, the new GM may want to get his own hand-picked coach to lead the team.

Either way, Montgomery could pay for the years of Sweeney’s mistakes.