The Athletic: Jim Montgomery Facing His Demons Head-On

Former DU and Dallas Stars head coach Jim Montgomery had a recent interview with Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic ($). While Montgomery did not reveal the specific event(s) that led to his firing by the Dallas Stars, he opened up about his addiction to alcohol and his understanding and acceptance of his dismissal.

Most people in similar circumstances would retain legal counsel and push for a settlement. Instead, Montgomery took full responsibility for his firing – with over $4 million dollars remaining on his two-and-a-half-year contract. Monty was never big on excuses – either from his players, himself, or even the fans.

“I think I deserved to be let go and I don’t think I deserve to make money for my actions,” Montgomery told The Athletic & TSN reporter Pierre LeBrun in a video chat. “I didn’t do the right things. Those are the things that I ask of my players all the time. But I didn’t do the right things.”

“I’m thankful for the Dallas Stars and Jim Nill for what they did, even though I understand that I disappointed Jim Nill, the staff that I worked with, great staff and great people and the players, especially, I let down. That firing was deserved.”

“It took the firing by the Dallas Stars for me to realize, look in the mirror and understand that disease with alcoholism,” Montgomery told LeBrun.

Anyone who knows Monty knows that he addresses problems head-on. He was 38 when he got his first DUI but his coaching structure, family, and career success masked the need for help. It took the events of December 9th, 2019 to bring the 50-year-old Montgomery face-to-face with his personal demons.

It seems clear that Montgomery will eventually return behind a bench, resuming his passion to teach and coach. “I am hopeful to coach again, it’s my passion, it’s what I love to do…I don’t think I’m in a position where I can afford to be picky,” he said.

Montgomery excelled in the college environment. The big question -Will a university take a risk on hiring a coach with two alcohol-related incidents?

Don’t bet against Monty.


Photo credit: CBS Sports

7 thoughts on “The Athletic: Jim Montgomery Facing His Demons Head-On”

  1. He’s a great coach and it looks like he’s dealing with his alcohol problem. He likely deserves another shot in coaching somewhere, and we should proud of what we are seeing from him so far. He’s taken responsibility and ownership for his situation and I wish him and his family the best on his road to recovery.

    That said, we still don’t know the nature of the actual incident that got him fired, and while it may not ever be our business to know the details of that incident, I hope that alcohol is the only issue here, and that’s its not being used as a cover story for something else…

  2. Stand up guy. Great coach. Bright man. Well spoken. Never at DU did he back away from a question. Hope and expect he will get another chance, possibly best on the college level.

  3. In the past Monty has shown talent, drive and ambition to succeed that exceeds his peers. When he overcomes this nasty disease I see no reason to expect anything less from him.

    Once he’s healthy again, his leadership abilities and coaching successes will eventually land him a job in the college ranks. I, for one, hope it will not be with any NCHC team.

    Perhaps his alma mater would someday consider him?

  4. I can’t say enough about Coach Montgomery. He gave our son Pete his “dream job” of helping out the team at DU and was a wonderful mentor. He was kind and funny and Pete adored him. Coach started the process of accepting Pete as an important part of the team and the team was all in too! Peter was so proud to help out and go to every home game. When Pete passed away in December 2017, Coach was extremely good to our family and recognized “Petey“ the rest of the season. Besides being a talented coach, Jim Montgomery is all heart and a wonderful leader in the athletic arena. I hope he gets the opportunity to coach at a university again.

    1. Kathi – Great to see you posting here. Petey was an inspiration to everyone in the DU community, and he’ll always be in our hearts. Thanks to you and your family for sharing him with the rest of us!

  5. Nice information on Monty and Pete.

    I don’t think Montgomery will take any more college coaching jobs. If he is able to make a full recovery (as much as that can be done), and if he can demonstrate to a prospective employer that he has, then I think he goes straight back an NHL head coach or assistant coaching position. His transgression will fade with time, and the way he has accepted responsibility (for whatever he did, in addition to his addiction) bodes well for a full comeback story. I frankly don’t see the point of a college program hiring him, unless they are willing to hire someone who will only be there for 1-2 years before moving on to something bigger.

  6. Thanks for the story and update on Monty. Two things stand out to me:

    1. Everyone’s rooting for Monty. Great coach, great leader, great heart. I can’t imagine him not getting another shot at coaching and before too long, claiming a championship, whether it’s the Stanley Cup, an NCAA title, or something else.

    2. You can be on top of the world one moment and alcoholism can bring you crashing down like a lead balloon shortly after. It’s no joke. It’s a terrible disease and can affect anyone, even the strongest among us.

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