The Stars eventually went on to reach the Stanley Cup finals, but lost in six games to eventual champion Tampa Bay, which clinched the series Monday night.
Now sober, the former University of Maine All-American is returning to the NHL with the team for which he debuted as a player.
Montgomery signed a two-year contract as an assistant coach with the St. Louis Blues, nine months after being fired by the Stars for unprofessional conduct stemming from his alcoholism.
Montgomery, who entered an inpatient residential program for alcohol abuse earlier this year, told Blues play-by-play man Chris Kerber that he is nine months sober.
The former UMaine Hobey Baker Award finalist is replacing Marc Savard, who left after one season with the Blues.
“Sometimes, it takes an unbearable consequence in your life in order to have an unbelievable breakthrough,” Montgomery told Kerber. “That’s the way I look at it. Once you realize you were headed down the wrong path, you have to get to work and fix the problem.”
Dallas was 17-11-3 this season when he was fired in December and his overall record with the Stars was 60-43-10.
“I’m very thankful for what happened. I am a much better person every day,” Montgomery said. “I’m a better husband, father and son to the people who care about me the most in my life.”
The 51-year-old Montgomery, wife Emily and their four children had moved from Dallas to St. Louis before he was contacted by the Blues about the job.
“This is a great day for me and my family,” Montgomery said. “My wife is from St. Louis and we have so many friends and family here.
“This is a home run. It’s an honor to be back with the St. Louis Blues organization,” he said.
The Blues won their first Stanley Cup last year.
“I’m very fortunate to be joining an excellent hockey team and an excellent coaching staff. I’m looking forward to helping the Blues [regain the Cup] any way I can,” Montgomery said.
Craig Berube is the Blues’ head coach and Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong told stlouisblues.com that they are excited to add Montgomery to the staff.
“Jim has won at every level he has coached at and we look forward to him being a valuable addition to our team,” Armstrong said.
Montgomery signed with the Blues as an undrafted free agent after racking up 301 points in his 170-game UMaine career (103 goals, 198 assists). He led the Black Bears to their first NCAA national championship in 1993.
Montgomery is UMaine’s all-time leading scorer and was a Hobey Baker Award finalist, losing to teammate Paul Kariya.
He made his debut with the Blues the following season and had six goals and 14 assists in 67 games. The Montreal native wound up appearing in 122 NHL games for five different teams and finished with nine goals and 25 assists.
Montgomery went on to have a successful coaching career highlighted by two United States Hockey League Clark Cup championships in three years with Dubuque, where he was the general manager and head coach. He guided the University of Denver to the 2017 NCAA title and was the recipient of the Spencer Penrose Award given to the nation’s best Division I college coach.
After five years at Denver, Montgomery was named the head coach of the Stars. He led them to a berth in the Western Conference semifinals during the 2018-2019 season where they lost to eventual Stanley Cup champion St. Louis, 2-1 in double overtime, in the decisive Game 7.
Montgomery is one of three players to have his number retired by UMaine along with Scott Pellerin and Paul Karyia.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated Montgomery had entered an inpatient residential program for alcohol abuse earlier this month.