For the second time in three years, a college coach will attempt to successfully make the jump behind an NHL bench.
General Manager Jim Nill introduced Jim Montgomery as the new head coach of the Dallas Stars less than a month after Ken Hitchcock stepped down after one season as the team’s head coach. The decision was announced at a Friday morning press conference.
Montgomery, who follows Dave Hakstol from North Dakota to the Philadelphia Flyer, is a former NHL center who compiled a 125-57-26 the last five seasons at the University of Denver, including successive trips to the Frozen Four and a national title in 2016-17. He also was a playing member of the Maine Black Bears national title team in 1993.
Montgomery is the third coach whom Nill has hired since becoming the Stars general manager five years ago. Montgomery is a departure from the previous two, grizzled NHL veterans Lindy Ruff and Hitchcock.
The Stars have missed the playoffs eight of the last 10 seasons, including the last two NHL campaigns, hope that the franchise’s 23rd head coach (and eighth since the franchise moved to Texas) will turn Dallas into a perennial playoff participant and a Stanley Cup contender.
“We are extremely happy to announce Jim as the head coach of the Dallas Stars,” said Nill. “He has achieved success at every level throughout his coaching career, establishing a unique culture around every team that he has led. He has created a standard of excellence by building trust with his players, while putting systems in place that allow his teams to compete for championships season after season.”
Montgomery, 48, joins the Stars after guiding Denver to five consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances; the team reached the NCAA Tournament every season he was at the helm. Montgomery posted a 70-35-15-9 mark within the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) over those five seasons to make the Pioneers the winningest program in the five-year history of the conference. During his tenure at Denver, the team also earned two NCHC Tournament Championships in 2014 and 2018, as well as being crowned NCHC Regular Season Champions during the 2013-14 regular-season. A two-time finalist for the Herb Brooks Award as NCHC Coach of the Year (2016, 2017), Montgomery won the Spencer Penrose Award as national coach of the year in 2017.
Before coaching Denver, the Montreal, Que. native spent three seasons as head coach and General Manager of the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the United States Hockey League (USHL) from 2010-13. In his three seasons, Montgomery accrued a 118-45-21 record, while leading Dubuque to two Clark Cup championships in 2011 and 2013 as well as an Anderson Cup as the USHL’s regular season champions for the 2012-13 season. Montgomery was twice named USHL General Manager of the Year with Dubuque in 2010-11 and 2012-13. He also spent four seasons as an assistant coach at Rensselear Polytechnic Institute of the NCAA’s ECAC from 2006-10. Montgomery began his coaching career at Notre Dame of the then-Central Collegiate Hockey Association, serving as an assistant coach for the 2005-06 campaign.
“Jim has established himself not only as one of the most well-respected coaches in collegiate hockey, but in the sport as a whole,” said Dallas Stars Owner and Governor Tom Gaglardi. “He has seen the game evolve from his career as a player through his time behind the bench at the junior hockey and NCAA levels, and has been able to adapt his coaching style to ensure his team’s success. The knowledge and experience he has gained from his diverse hockey background will aid our organization immensely moving forward.”
The former center skated in 122 career NHL games with St. Louis, Montreal, Philadelphia, San Jose and Dallas, recording 34 points (9-25=34) and 80 penalty minutes. As a Flyers player in 1995, he coined the Legion of Doom moniker for the Flyers’ famed Eric Lindros-Mikael Renberg-John LeClair line.
He also registered 493 points (165-328=493) and 538 penalty minutes in 451 career American Hockey League contests with Hershey, Philadelphia, Kentucky and Utah. Before starting his professional career, Montgomery played four seasons at the University of Maine of Hockey East from 1989-93. During his time at Maine, he helped the Black Bears win two Hockey East Tournament championships (1992, 1993) and the 1993 National Championship, marking the first national championship in school history. During his senior season at Maine in 1993, he served as the team’s captain and was selected as a Hobey Baker Memorial Award finalist, along with being named the NCAA Tournament Championship MVP. He finished his collegiate career ranked first in program history with 198 assists and 301 points (103-198=301), both of which still stand today. Montgomery was induced into the University of Maine Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998 and once again in 2017 as a member of the 1993 National Championship Team. His number #19 that he wore as a player at Maine is one of three numbers to be retired by the men’s hockey program.
Montgomery and his wife Emily have four children – JP (8), Colin (6), Ava (3) and Olivia (6 months).