Jim Montgomery finally admits he made terrible mistake

Too little, too late.



The Boston Bruins were eliminated by the Florida Panthers in seven games in Round 1 of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, bringing a startling end to what was a 65-win regular season that carried understandable expectations of achieving hockey's ultimate glory after the calendar had turned to June.

And right from the get-go, it was evident that there was something ailing goaltender Linus Ullmark, who will be a Vezina Trophy candidate for his spectacular regular season record. He allowed a total of 10 goals in Boston's Game 5 and 6 losses, while also being lit up for five goals in the Game 2 loss. Clearly, Ullmark wasn't right - and that was later essentially confirmed by NHL Insider Kevin Weekes, who reported that the Bruins goaltender was playing through a "debilitating" injury. 

Naturally, that immediately raised questions not only amongst the Bruins fanbase but by just about everyone as to why he waited until the fateful Game 7 to start backup Jeremy Swayman. And Montgomery's answer in the immediate aftermath was anything but satisfactory. 

“We just thought he was going to give us the best chance tonight. You’d have to ask ‘Goalie Bob’ [goalie coach Bob Essensa] a little more in detail about that, but we all thought that he was going to give us the best opportunity tonight,” Montgomery said in his postgame remarks. 

However, Montgomery is taking more ownership of the error after a little over a week has gone by. Earlier this afternoon, he stated that in hindsight, he'd have 

“In hindsight? Absolutely,” Montgomery replied. “The mistake I made, is I try to put our players in the best position to excel. And I think with…there’s an added mental grind in the playoffs and it takes a toll. That’s what I’ve learned through this grind is that the expectations that were put on our team going into the playoffs, there’s a price you pay. Everybody does, and I think we are going to learn from this – players, especially me, I’m going to have to learn – and I’m going to have to help the players push through which I didn’t do this year.”

He then offered some clarification on what appeared to be a deflection of responsibility in his initial answer after Game 7 when it came to goaltending coach Bob Essensa, admitting that it's ultimately his call of who gets the nod in net. 

“All season long I said ‘Goalie Bob’ [Essensa], makes the decision. …I make the final decision right? I’m the one that picks the starter,” Montgomery acknowledged. “So, it’s not ‘Goalie Bob’s decision but I really rely on him heavily. To answer your question specifically, we discuss this as a staff. I will talk in the playoffs especially even more so, with ‘Sweens’ [GM Don Sweeney], and Cam [team president Cam Neely], and in the end, we win Games 3 and 4 so you have two days off.