With sky-high expectations, the Vegas Golden Knights failed to reach the playoffs for the first time in franchise history this season. Major changes were bound to happen as a result, and now the first domino has fallen.
The Golden Knights announced Monday morning that Peter DeBoer has been relieved of his duties as head coach.
DeBoer, who spent parts of three seasons behind the Golden Knights bench, ends his tenure in Vegas with a 98-50-12 record, along with a 22-17 record in the postseason.
“We would like to thank Pete DeBoer for his commitment to the Vegas Golden Knights over the past three seasons,” Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon said in a statement. “Since joining the organization, Pete and his staff have guided us through some of the most unique and challenging circumstances we’ve witnessed since our franchise entered the NHL. After lengthy discussions over the last two weeks, we believe that a new coach will put us in the best position to succeed next season.”
DeBoer’s stay in Vegas was fruitful, but not without turbulence. He led the Golden Knights to the semifinals of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in back-to-back seasons, but was also involved in some bizarre controversies.
Just last month, multiple reports indicated goaltender Robin Lehner was destined to have season-ending shoulder surgery. When asked about Lehner’s status, though, DeBoer was unaware of Lehner’s reported injury. Lehner went on to suit up in the Golden Knights’ next game (albeit as the backup) before the team ultimately announced he would undergo season-ending surgery the very next day.
And who can forget about when DeBoer was accused of backstabbing Marc-Andre Fleury with an insane tweet from Fleury’s agent Allan Walsh?
“He stands up for his players and that is admirable...but that was a personal assault on Peter DeBoer...offside in every single regard.”@CraigJButton on Allan Walsh’s tweet of client Marc-Andre Fleury with a ‘DeBoer’ sword through his back: https://t.co/qGNNdENpyO#TSNHockey pic.twitter.com/7BORLop6ms— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) August 23, 2020
Off-ice controversies aside, DeBoer will likely be a hot commodity for teams searching for a new bench boss. DeBoer, 53, has a 513-379-123 record in 1,015 NHL games coached and has appeared in the Stanley Cup Final twice. He’s the seventh-winningest active head coach in the NHL, and by all means, most of the Golden Knights’ struggles this season were due mainly to injuries than poor coaching.
The Golden Knights will have no shortage of candidates to take over for DeBoer behind the bench next season. John Tortorella, Claude Julien, Paul Maurice, Jim Montgomery and Rick Tocchet are all looking for work, but Barry Trotz is perhaps the most notable candidate of the bunch.
Surprisingly fired by the New York Islanders last week, Trotz could be an ideal fit for a team looking to contend immediately — like the Golden Knights. Trotz has 23 seasons of experience as an NHL head coach under his belt. With a record of 914-670-60-168 in 1,812 games behind an NHL bench, he’s the winningest active head coach by a country mile, and he’s only 330 wins shy of Scotty Bowman’s record for most wins in NHL history.
And, of course, Golden Knights fans should be quite familiar with Trotz, whose Washington Capitals defeated the Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final in 2018.
This offseason was already expected to be an active one for the Golden Knights. And with the firing of DeBoer, the summer will be even more interesting than anticipated.