Jim Montgomery to Succeed Gwozdecky in Denver

The wait is finally over.

Although the amount of unanswered questions and confusion was at an all-time high throughout the majority of the process, Denver Athletics finally found what seems to be a perfect fit for the new Pioneer men's hockey coach.

When the dust had finally settled, fans received closure from Peg Bradley-Doppes about the firing of their beloved George Gwozdecky and Denver had named Jim Montgomery as their new men's hockey head coach.

Photo: Denver Pioneer Athletics

Denver University's selection committee had one hell of a tough decision when comparing all the coach resumes that had flooded into the athletics building.  Among the remaining canidates were said to be Boston College assistant coach Greg Brown, RPI head coach Seth Appert, Green Bay Gamblers head coach Derek Lalonde and of course, Jim Montgomery.

Montgomery wasn't exactly the "leading" candidate for Denver due to the fact he had a strong Maine background, and it just so happened to be at a time where Maine is searching for a new coach as well.  Denver had connections with a few other coaches that were thought to have more of an "in" with the application.

Greg Brown - BC Assistant Coach
Greg Brown was supposedly the runner-up for the coaching job at Denver.  Brown is currently the assistant coach at Boston College and has been with the Eagles since the 2004-05 season.  During his coaching career, Brown helped coach the Boston College Eagles to two national titles along with head coach Jerry York.  Brown spent a couple seasons in the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins and the Winnipeg Jets.  Although Brown did not win the Denver sweepstakes, he was asked to be apart of the coaching staff that will lead the USA U20 team in the World Junior Championships.

Seth Appert was on the list as well until RPI offered him a contract extension.  Appert spent eight seasons under Gwozdecky, winning two national championships during that period.  He most likely would have been a perfect fit, but the contract extension he was offered by RPI confirmed his love for the program there.

Derek Lalonde was another canidate that looked to be a good fit for the program.  Lalonde is currently the head coach of the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL, successfully getting through his second season with Green Bay.  In his very first year, Lalonde took the Gamblers to a Clark Cup championship.  Previous to that, Lalonde spent five years with Gwozdecky and the Denver program as an assistant coach.

But in the end, it was Jim Montgomery.
"I cannot wait to help build upon, and grow with the student-athletes that are currently here and will be here in the future," Montgomery said. "It is my goal to ensure our program honors and build upon the DU brand and outstanding legacy the Pioneer hockey family."
Montgomery had spent four years playing hockey at the University of Maine, which is one of the main reasons many believed he would end up in Maine instead of Denver.  He's currently Maine's all-time leading scorer with 301 points, putting him in 4th in the NCAA under the same category.

After spending seasons in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues, Montreal Canadians, Philadelphia Flyers, San Jose Sharks and Dallas Stars, Montgomery switched from a player to a teacher of the game.

Montgomery started the 2005-06 season as a volunteer assistant coach with the University of Notre Dame, allowing him the opportunity to become part of the RPI staff as an assistant coach the following year.  Montgomery remained with RPI until he accepted a job offer with the USHL's Dubuque Fighting Saints as the head coach and general manager to begin in the 2010-11 season.

In his first two years in the USHL, Montgomery compiled a 73-34-13 record overall and even won the Clark Cup during his first year as the head coach.  This year, Montgomery secured the Anderson Cup and will continue to battle into the post-season in hopes of winning another championship.  Montgomery guided his Fighting Saints to a record setting season this year, ending the regular season with the most wins in the program's history (45-11-8).

Montgomery will join Denver Athletics two days following his teams exit from the Clark Cup playoffs, whether it be due to a loss or after winning the cup.

The University only had positive things to say about their newest member of the Pioneer family.  The satisfaction they've been able to feel after being able to recruit such a highly respected coach has got to bring ease to many of their minds, including Peg Bradley-Doppes.
“From the onset of our search Jim Montgomery was at the top of our list and it is an absolute pleasure to welcome him to the Pioneer family,” said Bradley-Doppes. “Jim has all of the attributes needed to successfully take the reins of our hockey program – a commitment to excellence, integrity and superb hockey acumen to name just a few. He has won at every level and most importantly, he has comported himself with class and dignity at every stop. With this hire, we have landed a coach who has the experience and enthusiasm to guide our talented student-athletes to excel in the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference.”
Bradley-Doppes was under a lot of pressure to answer questions about why she decided to fire her long-time successful coach, George Gwozdecky.  It was a long week for DU fans and media who wanted closure to the situation and needed an explanation why the only coach to win 20 games in the last 12 seasons was fired.  Finally, Bradley-Doppes came forward to provide fans and media with the answer they deserved much earlier.
“I did not mean it derogatory.  I believe Coach Gwozdecky did a great here at DU.  I told him that," said AD Peg Bradley-Doppes. "He ran a good program with great young men and we had success.  Our aspirations as an institution that are clearly outlined with our head coaches we aspire to be in the hunt for the Frozen Four year-in, year-out..  I did not mean it any way to be derogatory, certainly not to our student-athletes, certainly not to our coaches. But rather, the expectation of our programs are higher."
To read more about Mike Chamber's interview with Bradley-Doppes, click here.

Either way, Montgomery refuses to deny his excitement with the new opportunity he's been confronted with.
"I am honored to become the eighth head coach of the University of Denver's storied hockey program,” said Montgomery. “I look forward to building upon the tradition of excellence created over the past 60 years by Murray Armstrong, and continued through the decades with other outstanding coaches, especially George Gwozdecky."
Again, the new Denver hockey coach, Jim Montgomery, will join the Pioneers following their exit from the USHL post-season playoffs.  We look forward to what he will bring to the table for not only Denver, but the NCHC as well.

Maddie MacFarlane Photography

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