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Would it be fair to say that Dallas is closer to winning? “I would say that the No. 1 reason was Jim Nill,” he answered. “In our two interviews, he was very confident how to build, how to continue, what he has and where they are going. That was my first question, what are your expectations? He said they want to win, are at the peak of our window for next two-to-five years. It was matter-of-fact, not selling, but what he believes. He’s elite at what he does, no BS, here’s what we are doing and where we are going. That’s the way I am wired, not cliché lines. If we lose a game, I’m going to explain why. Everybody deserves to know why we lose.”
He made so many calls to learn about Nill and the Stars that it led to the leaks about his hiring. What did he learn? “The most important relationship you have is with your GM … you’ve got to be on the same page. They told me I wouldn’t find a better person. Every organization has warts, but if you have good ownership and a good GM, you will do well. Dallas has that.”
20. Montgomery has a very interesting seven-step “process” that he pushed to be successful at the University of Denver. (More information here.) They are: 50 hits in a game; win 60 per cent of faceoffs; give up three or less odd-man rushes; commit to blocking shots; win the special-teams battle; win the net-front battle; take zero undisciplined penalties.
“A couple of those won’t be necessary. I will probably have four mainstays and rotate the others. If you’re not committed to blocking shots, you shouldn’t be in the league. Fifty hits? That’s crazy, never in the NHL. Besides, it’s more about being in the right position, making sure your opponent can’t go through you to get to the net. But three or less odd-man rushes, win the special teams and win net-front? Those matter.” (The regular-season high for hits this season was 45, by Montreal against Carolina.)
21. How much video of the Stars had he watched before getting hired? “I was making calls more than watching games. People I respect, I was asking them, ‘What do they have and what are they are missing?’ The answer was, ‘What they have you can’t coach, what they are missing, you can.’ I’m confident we can have a successful run.”
So, what does it mean to say, “What they are missing, you can (coach)?”
“It’s not Xs and Os,” Montgomery answered. “You look at the structure Ken Hitchcock put in. They were (tied for sixth) in goals against. They have that. Every coach has ways of creating a culture, an awareness of how to become an elite team.”
What are some of his? “The most important part of coaching is that the homework starts right after a game. The next day, when we review the game … I’ve never had a problem admitting mistakes I’ve made, whether it is game planning, bench management, controlling emotions with refs, analyzing how I might have done better. When coaches are not going right at you, ‘You did this, you did that,’ it helps a group understands they are in it together.”
That’s not to say Montgomery will be a soft touch. He had lunch last week with captain Jamie Benn. “I told him to be himself, not do things because I say so, but because he is compelled to buy in. Great captains think team first, and that’s why they are captains. If your best players are the hardest on themselves, the most accountable, everybody else falls in line. If I can be hard on Benn in the first, I can be hard on everyone the rest of the game. The right leaders want to be held accountable.”
22. Who paid for lunch? “I did,” Montgomery laughed. “But that’s the last time, because I know what he makes.”
I was curious about Spezza, who went through a hard year. “I told him, ‘I like to play with the puck, and you like to play with the puck. Whatever happened last year or the last two years, you’ve had a great career, and I expect you to be at that level.’ Fire in someone’s belly is an incredible motivator, and we’ll see the best version of Jason Spezza we’ve seen in awhile.”
24. Sounds like one of Dallas’ other interviewees was its AHL coach, Derek Laxdal.
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People I respect, I was asking them, ‘What do they have and what are they are missing?’ The answer was, ‘What they have you can’t coach, what they are missing, you can.’
Shows what the rest of the league thinks of Hitch.
Eskimo Spy wrote:I would of course make some jokes if any of you died
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ScubaSteve wrote:How does he have 18 years with the organization? Was he in Minnesota?
I counted 16 including last season and the last season in Minnesota.
He coached from 1992-2008 and again in 17-18.
EDIT: Wikipedia entry is wrong. He coached from 1992-2009 and 17-18. That's 18 seasons.
Leonardo da Vinci