Roope Hintz, Mats Zuccarello, Alexander Radulov, Jim Montgomery

In this April 17, 2019, file photo, Dallas Stars coach Jim Montgomery, center rear, watches play against the Nashville Predators during the third period of Game 4 in an NHL hockey first-round playoff series in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)

While nothing has been finalized yet, Jim Montgomery is expected to be named the next coach of the Boston Bruins. according to league sources.

David Quinn and Jay Leach had been perceived as front-runners at the outset of the coaching search, but the 53-year-old Montgomery’s candidacy has gained steam after the last couple of days and now it appears that he has won the job. As of Thursday evening, there has been no announcement from the Bruins that GM Don Sweeney has finished his search that is now more than three weeks old since Bruce Cassidy was fired on June 7.

While he comes with some issues, Montgomery’s coaching abilities are highly regarded. In his three years as head coach of the Dubuque Fighting Saints, he won the USHL championship twice. In his five years at Denver from 2013-18, he amassed a 125-56-26 record. Montgomery then took a Dallas Stars team that had missed the playoffs the previous two years, took them to the postseason, and won a series. At the time of his firing the next year, the Stars were one of the NHL’s hottest teams at 18-8.

With the Bruins, Montgomery has his work cut out for him. The B’s are neither a Stanley Cup contender nor a tear-down project, at least not yet. The expected return of Patrice Bergeron will help, they have a very good 1-2 punch on the back end with Charlie McAvoy (when healthy) and Hampus Lindholm and there’s hope that Jeremy Swayman will take the next step to become an elite goaltender.

But there are holes and question marks. David Pastrnak is scheduled to become a UFA next summer and some clarity on his desire to remain a Bruin is needed. Like McAvoy, Brad Marchand is expected to be out until Thanksgiving after surgery on both hips. Matt Grzelcyk will also miss time at the start of the year.

Yes, there are challenges. And now it could be Montgomery’s task to overcome them.

Boston has been the land of opportunity for coaches in search of a career rebirth over the past two decades, and Montgomery certainly falls into that category. The former University of Maine star, who won a national championship with the Black Bears in 1993, was in the midst of his second year of what was shaping up as a very promising tenure with the Stars when he was abruptly fired for “unprofessional conduct” in December 2019.

Facing the problem head-on, he soon revealed that he was battling alcoholism and he subsequently entered a rehabilitation program. In a statement at the time, Montgomery said that losing his job “was a wakeup call. It was also the appropriate call.”

Montgomery entered into an inpatient residential rehab program at that time and, by all accounts, he has turned his life around. He has been an assistant coach with the St. Louis Blues the last two years and reportedly has also been a candidate to take over the vacant Winnipeg Jets head coaching job.

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