How is an NHL team like the economy? Because most teams need exactly what businesses need today, turnaround specialists.
Defenseman Steve Montador
, acquired by the Boston Bruins
on Wednesday from the Anaheim Ducks
for forward Petteri Nokelainen
, thrived under one turnaround specialist, Darryl Sutter
in Calgary, and looks forward to working for another, Peter Chiarelli in Boston.
Sutter became general manager/coach of the Calgary Flames
on April 11, 2003, and a year later had the team in the Stanley Cup Final, which they lost in seven games by one goal. Chiarelli has the Bruins on top of the Eastern Conference in his third season as general manager.
"It's hard to compare because I'm not nearly as familiar with Boston as I was with Calgary," said Montador, who contributed two shots on goal in nearly 14 minutes of ice time in his debut Thursday, a 2-1 loss at home to Phoenix. "What was special about that city and team was Darryl Sutter
turned things around by adding a couple of key players. It was important for us to be growing all season. At Christmas, we were not in a playoff position but by the All-Star Game, we were. We had a team that battled and believed we could win every game, going into the playoffs."
Montador and the Bruins will be looking to turn things around Sunday when they head to New York to face the Rangers in an NHL on NBC battle at 12:30 p.m. ET. Boston has nine losses in its last 12 games, and has seen its double-digit lead in the East dwindle to just six points on second-place New Jersey.
Montador has joined four other members of that Flames' team on the Bruins: center Marc Savard
, the leading scorer; defenseman Andrew Ference
; right winger Chuck Kobasew
and defensive center Stephane Yelle
. Montador said rejoining his ex-teammates is one of the reasons he's excited about playing for the Bruins.
That Chiarelli is an admirer of Sutter's work in Calgary is another reason to be excited, Montador said, adding that his agent, Steve Kasper, played for and coached the Bruins and has told him he will enjoy playing in Boston. Montador said he is familiar with the history of the team and is excited about "wearing the black-and-gold."
"I can't get there soon enough," Montador said Wednesday in a media teleconference before hopping an eastbound flight.
A few minutes later, Montador realized he was familiar with the Bruins. The Ducks and Bruins met in Boston last Thursday and it wasn't pretty.
"Oooh, a 6-0 shellacking," Montador moaned. "It was impressive. We did have a few scoring chances but Tim Thomas
, with that unprecedented style, prevented us from getting any goals. He's hard to beat and hard to figure out. The Bruins are a team that holds onto the puck as much as possible and they work in the middle of the ice instead of just working along the boards. They can play inside and outside because of a mix of players who can work both angles. It's a well-rounded group of players who are tough to play against. I didn't feel like we could generate very much. We had our hands full that night."
Montador said he's been impressed by the growth of the players he teamed with in Calgary who are now in Boston.
"I think everybody in Calgary and in juniors, prior to his time with the New York Rangers
, knew how skilled 'Savvy' was," Montador said. "He has matured as a pro and he has taken the extra steps we've become accustomed to. He's been in the top 10 in scoring the past three seasons. I know Marc, we have a lot of mutual friends. He has grown immensely and I'm sure the Boston fans have come to enjoy that.
"Andy (Ference) and I are friends and former (defensive) partners. He has stepped up his level, as well. I admire the type of character he has shown, on and off the ice.
" 'Yeller' has always been a consistent player, a soft-spoken guy who comes to play hard every night and do it well. I knew Chuck had the skill to be a dominant player in this league. He's on a team with a lot of firepower and he's fit in well. These guys have matured appropriately and it shows in the way they have impacted the team all year long."
Montador said he is a player that likes to keep things simple and physical but that he can join the rush and make good first passes out of the defensive zone. He was Anaheim's third-leading scoring defenseman, behind Scott Niedermayer
and Chris Pronger
, and led the team with 125 penalty minutes.
He said that even though he had played five years in the NHL, he grew under the tutelage of Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle
, a former Norris Trophy winner.
"One of the things that Randy stressed was working from the middle of the ice to the outside," Montador said. "Most coaches ask for that but he was adamant. With Randy, if you eliminate mistakes, you can play a lot more."