The Vegas Golden Knights fired coach Gerard Gallant and assistant coach Mike Kelly on Wednesday, the team announced.
Former San Jose Sharks coach Peter DeBoer has been named the team’s second coach in its history and will coach his first game Thursday at the Ottawa Senators.
“In order for our team to reach its full potential, we determined a coaching change was necessary. Our team is capable of more than we have demonstrated this season,” general manager Kelly McCrimmon said in a statement provided by the team. “We would like to thank Gerard and Mike for their service to the Vegas Golden Knights. They were both instrumental to the success we have enjoyed in our first two-plus seasons and we wish them all the best moving forward.”
Gallant was named the Golden Knights’ first coach on April 13, 2017 and led the newest NHL franchise to the greatest inaugural season in the expansion era. Vegas went 51-24-7 in 2017-18 and reached the Stanley Cup Final. Gallant won the Jack Adams Award, given to the best coach during the NHL’s season.
Gallant led the Golden Knights back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a second consecutive season in 2018-19. Despite an 8-11-1 start that was highlighted by the 20-game suspension of top defenseman Nate Schmidt, Vegas finished with 93 points and third in the Pacific Division. The Golden Knights had a 3-1 series lead against the Sharks in the first round before losing the final three games, including a 5-4 loss in Game 7 at San Jose.
The third season featured ups and downs; such as Vegas starting 11-11-4 through its first 26 games, but the Golden Knights appeared to turn the corner by going 13-4-2 in its next 19, including a 5-4 overtime victory against the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues at home. That was their fourth consecutive victory, all in the midst of a season-long seven-game homestand.
But the Golden Knights lost the final three games of the homestand — to the Pittsburgh Penguins, Los Angeles Kings and Columbus Blue Jackets — by a combined score of 12-5, including a 3-0 loss to Columbus.
Vegas lost its fourth straight game, 4-2, on Tuesday to the Buffalo Sabres. The Athletic reports Gallant had one year left on his deal and was made aware of the decision this morning.
Gallant’s tenure ends with a record of 118-75-20, a .601 winning percentage, two playoff appearances and one Stanley Cup Final appearance.
DeBoer, 51, takes over after coaching the Sharks since 2015. San Jose made the playoffs in all of DeBoer’s tenure, including a Stanley Cup Final appearance his first year in 2016. DeBoer also coached the New Jersey Devils to a Stanley Cup Final berth in his first year with them in 2012.
The Sharks made the Western Conference Final last season, but the Sharks fired DeBoer on Dec. 11 after a 15-16-2 start. This will be DeBoer’s fourth stop as a head coach; he coached the Florida Panthers from 2008-11.
“In Peter DeBoer, we have a proven, experienced head coach who we believe can help us achieve our ultimate goal. We are excited to welcome Peter and his family to the Vegas Golden Knights organization. We look forward to a strong finish to the 2019-20 season with Peter at the helm and a successful tenure in the seasons to come.”
McCrimmon is expected to meet with the media at 9:30 a.m. in Ottawa to discuss the change.