Denver Pioneers head coach Jim Montgomery just went down in school coaching history when he helped the University of Denver men’s ice hockey program pull even with the esteemed North Dakota for second in all-time national championships this spring, in just his fourth year behind the bench.
The organization took home their eighth win all-time, defeating the University of Minnesota-Duluth for their first win since 2005.
Now, he could be looking to take that expertise to the big leagues.
In a phone interview with the Denver Post this week, Montgomery – who led the program to an impressive victory just weeks ago – confirmed that he’s planning to interview with the NHL’s Florida Panthers to submit himself as a head coaching candidate.
“I have spoken to Florida and I will meet with Florida over the next week to 10 days,” Montgomery said Wednesday in a phone conversation from Orlando, Fla., where he is vacationing with his family. “The date hasn’t yet been confirmed.”
Montgomery took the University of Denver from a tough .475 points percentage in his first year behind the bench to a championship in year four, but he’s no stranger to success as a head coach. Prior to joining Denver, the former NHLer took the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints to two championships in three years, winning it all in 2011 and 2013, marking a dominant head coaching career despite limited experience.
A native of Montreal, Quebec, Montgomery was undrafted in the NHL out of the University of Maine. He would go on to spend over 100 games at the NHL level, predominantly skating in the minors before hanging up his skates in 2005.
The 47-year-old bench boss spent his 2004-05 campaign as a player-coach for the UHL’s Missouri River Otters before making the shift to college coaching, spending a year as an assistant with Notre Dame and four as an assistant with R.P.I. before getting his first head gig with Dubuque.
Apart from his one year as a player-assistant in the UHL, Montgomery has no pro coaching experience. For the Panthers, that’s a bit of a risk – but the innovative organization may feel it’s the right way to go for a developing, young roster.