(Nashville) In December 2019, the Dallas Stars fired their head coach without notice. Jim Montgomery acted “unprofessionally”, the team argued. We will later learn that he had serious alcohol problems.

Three and a half years later, the same Montgomery was named head coach of the year at the NHL’s end-of-season honors in Nashville. An obvious choice, given the exceptional campaign that the Boston Bruins have just experienced, which he leads today. A choice that confirms above all how far the 53-year-old Montrealer has come from afar.

On stage at Bridgestone Arena, Montgomery spoke of his “second chance” and shamelessly addressed his demons. With the Jack Adams trophy in hand, he sent a message to people struggling with addictions: “You can change, but it doesn’t just happen. It takes a team, a community. I will be eternally grateful. »

In front of the journalists, a crowd in front of which he is resolutely more comfortable, he added to it. He paid tribute to his family: his sisters, his brother, his in-laws and, of course, his wife and children. In particular his two boys aged 12 and 14 “who have seen everything” of his story for three and a half years. “I hope it helps them in the future,” he wished.

Every day, when he wakes up, he writes. To express his “gratitude,” he said. A few words, a few lines, his thoughts of the moment. Monday morning, a few hours from the NHL Gala, he thought about how far he had come. To his relatives, those he named in the evening. To his fellow coaches, even the referees, who have talked to him or encouraged him through time.

By accepting his “vulnerability”, he believes he has developed “strength” with his players. “It gives more confidence than anything else,” he believes. He draws inspiration from his own experience in his approach with his men. “Everyone has their battles, everyone needs support. It is important not to escape anyone. »

It is with “honesty” that he intends to approach the next season of his Bruins. Winning the Jack-Adams trophy was not a guarantee of longevity for those who came before him. Five of the last six winners were fired over the next three years.

Montgomery does not take offense. “I think you have to be honest with the players and with the team,” he notes. When you say or think something, maybe the players won’t always agree, but they’ll feel respected if they feel included. If they know there is a plan to success. »

The Jack Adams Trophy is awarded by NHL broadcasters. Montgomery was the near unanimous choice of the jurors, who awarded him 79 of their 82 first-place votes.