Wash down those Jim Montgomery rumors with this grain of salt

Photo courtesy of 9News

The noise is getting louder and unease is growing across Denver and all of Pionation. And the answer is not coming for at least another 7-10 days.

What is going to happen with Monty – and the players, too? We’ve hardly had time to wear our championship hats and shirts – and now, this.

The Denver Post’s Mike Chambers has done features on both Monty’s future and the risk of potential player departures. The conversations and speculation at local dinner tables, coffee shops, and taverns are picking up steam as fans and friends of the program speculate about ‘the decision.’

But as we wait, consider these factors which may lower your blood pressure and provide some level of assurance:

  • He just might stay. Look at the head coaching shopping list for NHL openings and they are lengthy and filled with a laundry list of capable NHL candidates waiting their turn. In fact, the conservative NHL culture tends to recycle coaches and assistant coaches like American baseball re-purposes the same skippers over and over again. Not many examples of college coaches taking the ‘Hakstol leap’ directly from college to the head of the class at the NHL. Instead, most of the candidates are waiting their turn behind a host of usual suspects – fired head coaches and the next batch of emerging NHL wunderkind assistant coaches.
  • There will never be another Monty – true. There also will never be another Murray ‘the Chief’ Armstrong – DU’s John Wooden of college hockey with rings on five fingers.  There will never be another George Gwozdecky who brought Denver 19 years of on-ice excellence and two titles – starting with a moribund Pioneer program that had nearly skated into irrelevance.  Of course, DU has had a few head coaching clunkers, too- but let’s cast that aside for now because, well, let’s be positive.
  • As for the players (student-athletes), it is widely understood by Montgomery and their NHL rights owners that most of DU’s players need additional development. They can either get another year of on-ice growth and education here (been to the beautiful DU campus lately?) or ride the buses out of Moosejaw or Green Bay. Ever lay out on DU’s Carnegie Green on a 70-degree day in February without sunblock? It’s killer!

Which takes us to our final point:

  • Ron Grahame and Peg Bradley-Doppes. If not this year, in the next several years, they are going to have to find a replacement for Jim Montgomery. For the same reason there is a logjam at the NHL coaching hockey ranks, there are a number of skilled coaches waiting for an opportunity at a top tier University collegiate program like DU. Ron and Peg have proven the ability to identify coaching talent and bring that talent to Denver (Evidence? Look for the soon to be delivered ninth Directors Cup). Does anyone believe the duo are sitting around waiting for the shoe to drop without a plan? And let’s not forget, there are likely exceptional coaches, internal and external, drooling to run a program rich in excellence and tradition like Denver.

The cupboard ain’t bare folks.

In fact, remember, there was a similar situation four years ago when a relatively unknown coach came to DU following a local coaching icon – and he has done pretty well.

So, take a deep breath and relax – that is what Monty is doing now on vacation with his family.

Still not convinced and just as nervous now as you were before you read this?

Beer anyone? Let’s talk.

16 thoughts on “Wash down those Jim Montgomery rumors with this grain of salt”

  1. Monty has given us 4 years that in my mind are probably unmatched. It’s doubtful any college coach in his first 4 years has taken his team to the tournament each with progression each year, culminating his 4th year in 2017 with a NATTY. (No need to research this Puck Swami and make me eat my words) Monty has my blessings and I want him to do what’s best for himself and and his family.
    Naturally, if Monty remains at DU, it’s more likely our stars stay for another year. So selfishly, I want Monty to remain. Maybe if Monty leaves, the kids remain anyway. We will see how this all shakes out.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Murray won three Nattys’ in his first five seasons. That’s going to be tough for anyone to match.

    Wish Monty the best with his interviews. He’s earned the right to listen to the offers.

    DU needs to be ready step up with another financial package to keep things interesting & I’m not sure the University has the funding in place to pull it off.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Good article.

    Money is only a part of the equation at play here. Monty was apparently pretty smart with his money from his NHL playing days, and when you add on the $500k-ish annual package he’s earning at DU now with the five year extension he signed last year, he may be already be at or approaching some level of lifetime of financial security for his own family. In other words, $5 million invested in 3-5% bonds throws off $200-250K in annual interest income without even touching the principal. Earning a $1-2 million dollars a year for a few years as an NHL coach may not be that much of a financial difference maker for him, when you add the travel and stress levels of being an NHL head coach.

    Of course, the prestige of being an NHL head coach makes you one of the top 30 in the world in your chosen profession, which may be worth more than just the money.

    Monty knows exactly how coaches are treated at that level, and he may decide that being a high level college coach is worth more to him. Former BU head coaching legend Jack Parker turned down a number of NHL head coaching offers during his career, and perhaps there is more the decision than just prestige, challenge and money,,,,

    Liked by 1 person

  4. When Jim saw Buffalo as the frozen 4 site in 2 yrs. that probably did it.

    Seriously, we owe him big time for establishing the team brand; all 4 lines full bore all the time. If he leaves I hope Peg looks for a similar type.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love the Buffalo comment on FF.. Montgomery certainly came in under a dark cloud and did a hell of a job! I hope he stays – time will tell.


  5. Great article. Any chance Monty will go to the Avs? If so, would that help recruiting? It would be great to see that kind of win-win for the university if he does decide to take a bow and exit.


    1. Funny you should mention it. There was a feature article in the Denver Post today saying the Avs should hire Monte. Kizla writes that the Avs should move from Bednar after one season…but that does not seem like a realistic option at this point.


  6. All,
    I revisited the websites from 4 years ago when David Quinn, Seth Appert, Greg Brown and Monty were interviewing. While I was HUGE George fan, the school moved on. If Monty goes, Greg Brown should be our guy. Huge Parallels with him and Monty, plus a recent WJC Gold medal give him huge points with current players who may be thinking of leaving. BC has 29 guys who skated in the NHL this year – 29 is huge. I think he knows about high end talent, Borgstrom and Terry (who he coached at WJC). Also, my hockey sources say that you cannot find a higher character guy then Mr. Brown. Additionally, I am a big loyalty guy. Monty said in January that he will never coach anywhere else and now the NHL calls? He is a good guy, but it seems like he has moved on with such a public display.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Greg Brown would be a fabulous coach at DU – Perfect role model, great recruiter. excellent coach, great person, NHL/Olympic experience, etc.

    The downside of Brown is that he’ll likely want to replace Boston College legend Jerry York when York retires, and that’s probably going to happen in the next 5 years…


    1. I live in the New England and BC is in turmoil. York has clearly lost his fastball and with a new AD, BC is highly unlikely to make waves with York. We would be stupid not to interview him and see if he would leave. The Monty interviews are a bit annoying as they seem selfish and free of loyalty to DU. I love David Carle, but he is too young and could benefit by learning from a Brown or similar mentor. Then in 5-10 years, he could be our guy.


  8. I liked Greg Brown but didn’t know about Monty at the time. He would be an ideal candidate. We have a similar situation here at DU in LAX with Coach Bill Tierney and Matt Brown – but Bill Tierney is still on top of his game.


  9. Though speculation at this point is amazingly premature, I wonder what it would take to pry Kevin Dineen away from his assistant duties with the Blackhawks….

    The major stumbling block is likely that he’s already been an NHL head coach (somewhat ironically, with the Florida Panthers). The stint, however, was short and marked with far less success than I’m sure he’d have preferred. As such, I wouldn’t be surprised if the only thing that could get him off the Blackhawks’ bench would be another head gig in the NHL.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Fresh off a NC and I find myself with lots of uneasiness, given the possibility of Monty leaving. It’s a weird feeling. He has certainly earned the right to listen, but he wouldn’t be listening if he weren’t interested right now. If he leaves, what early departures follow? How many recruits then decide to bail?

    Good article.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Also, twister, 8 openings are in the process of being filled and snapping up much of the young coaching talent. For example, Jim Montgomery’s replacement at Dubuque -Jason Lammers- had great college experience, management experience, and a great record is headed to Niagara. Let’s hope Jim stays.


    2. Every coach is going to listen when the NHL comes calling. It’s the top of the profession. And it pays beyond what any college program can afford. They’d be fools not to listen, and NOBODY should hold that listening against Monty, either.

      That said, Monty is happy here, and it would take a great NHL head coaching situation for him to leave. Florida has not been a model franchise and were Monty to call DU alum Kevin Dineen, he’d hear the truth about the Panthers, where coaching tenures are short.

      If Monty does leave, DU will take a hit. Gambrell will almost certainly leave early, as he is Monty-dependent. If Florida picks Monty, I think Borgstrom is 50-50 to leave DU, as he is Florida’s draft pick. Terry would be 50-50 to leave as well, although he has the biggest physical growing to do among the three.

      Some recruits would also leave, perhaps up to half of the verbals DU has right now.

      But make no mistake, Denver is a top 5 college hockey job and there would be no shortage of good coaches to take his place. My first call would be to Dineen, a Chicago Blackhawks assistant who has many years of NHL experience as a player and coach, which is highly valued by top recruits. He’s making good coin in Chicago, but he would be my first choice.

      Liked by 1 person

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