DENVER (CBS4) – The University of Denver on Monday introduced its eighth ever hockey coach, Jim Montgomery, who was the special guest on Xfinity Monday Live!
DU had a lot of candidates with some big names and Montgomery admitted he was a little surprised that he landed the job.
“I don’t know. I’m a little baffled myself. I’m just really happy that the Board of Trustees, Chancellor Robert Coombe and Vice Chancellor of Athletics and Recreation Peg Bradley-Doppes chose me to be the eighth head coach in the storied history of the hockey program,” Montgomery said.
There were a lot of people stunned at the turn of events when former coach George Gwozdecky lost his job. Montgomery said he was one of them.
“I have to be honest, I was surprised, yes.”
Montgomery got a chance to meet his new team on Monday. He said he thinks they’re a little bit nervous about having a new coach.
“A little bit of trepidation, they don’t know what to expect, it’s the unknown. I think I told them what I’m about as a person and as a coach,” he said. “I said, ‘I hope that this is going to be a peak in your life, because I plan on doing great things with you.’ ”
Gwozdecky was at DU for 19 years and got to the NCAA tournament, but that obviously that wasn’t enough. CBS4’s Vic Lombardi asked Montgomery if winning in the tournament is the barometer in his mind.
“I think that’s the reason I was so excited to be offered this position. My whole history, you know, it’s about growing as a team, getting better every day, and in the end you want to win a championship.
“I feel that all the tools are here, starting with the talented student body, the student athletes I’m going to be with, and the infrastructure of a great facility to be able to win national championships here.”
Montgomery is still actively coaching for the Dubuque Fighting Saints in Iowa, who are in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
“Playoffs begin Wednesday. We finished the regular season as the No. 1 seed, so we should win another championship. It will be our third in my three years there,” he said. “Right now the assistant coaches are already in place (at DU), got to run the show, and the players understand that and they’re really talented assistant coaches.”
Montgomery said he plans on recruiting players from Western Canada.
“Because of its proximity to Denver … those are where the best players come from Division I hockey. Denver, geographically, lends itself to recruit really well, and then you combine it with the great academics and the facilities we have, the program sells itself for us to get the best student athletes from across North America.”
Lombardi asked Montgomery what his coaching style is like.
“Execution and effort is what I demand and I hold my players accountable to that,” he replied.
Montgomery’s playing resume includes a national championship with the University of Maine. He was named NCAA Tournament Championship MVP in 1993. From college he was signed by the St. Louis Blues and had also played for the Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers, San Jose Sharks and Dallas Stars.
– By Matthew J. Buettner, CBSDenver.com
Watch more of the video with Jim Montgomery in the Xfinity Monday Live! section.