With the Boston Bruins cruising along at a 19-3 clip, Coach Jim Montgomery is understandably focusing less on the results and more on the “process.” That may sound like coachspeak, and he’s not the only bench boss to use that term, but Montgomery is a firm believer in it.

Montgomery can even point to the exact time in his hockey education that he learned to think the game like that. It was at the Frozen Four in his sophomore season at Maine.

“I failed miserable my first time at a Frozen Four,” said Montgomery. “I remember coming down from my room to get on the bus to go to the game and our college band was there playing our fight song. And there must have been 500 people in the lobby of the hotel. And I was like ‘Oh my God, this game is bigger than any game I ever played. And I choked. And I said I’m never going to let that happen again and I started honing in on my own process that allowed me to have success.

“And I’ve got to admit, I don’t think I ever choked again. So it was a learning moment and I took that, and when I started getting into coaching, I’m like ‘There’s a way I’ve got to be able to impart that (to) players so that they stay in the moment and they don’t start thinking about ‘Jesus, we’re in the Stanley Cup Finals’ or “This person is there.’ There’s got to be a mechanism, a routine you have – and I think everybody can value a routine – that allows you to get to your A game.”

That turning point game was in 1991 when the Black Bears were playing Northern Michigan in Minnesota.

“And I was awful,” said Montgomery with a chuckle. “And we lost (5-3), so if I was good, maybe we would have won.”


Before his college career was done, of course, Montgomery gave one of the most clutch performances in NCAA history, notching a third-period hat trick to lift Maine over Lake Superior State in the national championship game in 1993.

Focusing on the day-to-day work can help keep the Bruins’ players’ minds from elevating to the clouds, he said.

“I think it keeps you in the moment. Keeps you present,” said Montgomery. “You don’t think about what’s happened and you don’t get too happy with yourself for what’s in the past. And you don’t start focusing on the future, which is results. If you just stay in the moment and focus on what we think gives us success, I think it always helps you to be consistently successful.”

ANTON STRALMAN has officially been assigned to Providence but he has not reported there. He was skating on his own at Warrior Ice Arena prior to the team’s practice on Thursday but, according to the Bruins, the 36-year-old veteran is still determining what he wants to do after clearing waivers on Tuesday. The Bruins right now appear willing to give him that space. He would be prohibited form practicing with Boston while on assignment to Providence.

The  Bruins would like to keep Stralman, who is a solid depth piece and relatively inexpensive at $1 million. But he had to be sent down to make cap room for the returning Derek Forbort. The Bruins could be buying time to further pursue a trade involving defenseman Mike Reilly, who cleared waivers a second time.

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