Another NHL head coach has been given his walking papers: San Jose Sharks bench boss Pete DeBoer was dismissed Wednesday night. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported the firing was “purely a hockey decision.”
DeBoer, 51, had been with the Sharks since the 2015-16 season; that year, he them to the Stanley Cup Final, where they fell in six games to the Pittsburgh Penguins. During his four-plus seasons in California, he compiled a 198-129-34 regular-season record with four playoff appearances and a 32-28 postseason record.
After the Sharks advanced to the Western Conference finals in 2019, where they lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues, expectations were high for the club this season. San Jose started the season 0-4, however, and produced just four wins in its first 15 games, which put the onus on DeBoer to turn things around.
NHL COACHES FIRED: Mike Babcock | Bill Peters | John Hynes | Jim Montgomery
Things seemed to be heading in the right direction in early November as the Sharks won six consecutive games, but a five-game winless streak to start December — including being outscored 15-3 in the last three — followed, and thus the move was made.
“When you have had a level of past success, change is never easy, but we feel this team is capable of much more than we have shown thus far and that a new voice is needed,” general manager Doug Wilson said in a team press release announcing DeBoer’s dismissal. “As a team and as individuals, our play has not met expectations this year and our level of consistency has not been where it needs to be. This group of individuals who will lead our team moving forward are very familiar with our players, and we think this change can provide our group with a fresh start.”
San Jose (15-16-2) is sixth in the Pacific Division and out of a playoff spot. Entering Wednesday’s games, it was five points behind the Vegas Golden Knights for the second wild card in the Western Conference.
Despite a roster that includes the likes of Joe Thornton, Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl and Norris Trophy winners Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns, the Sharks ranked 24th in the NHL with 2.64 goals per game. Martin Jones has continued to struggle in goal after a roller-coaster 2018-19 season and is carrying a .891 save percentage. The team ranks 29th in the league with 3.42 goals against per game. San Jose also ranks 23rd on the power play (16 percent), although it does have the best penalty kill in the league (88.3 percent).
Bob Boughner will take over as interim head coach. Boughner, who left the Sharks in 2017 to serve as head coach of the Florida Panthers, returned as an assistant after the Sharks were eliminated in May. Joining Boughner on staff will be associate coach Roy Sommer, assistant coach Mike Ricci and goaltending coach Evgeni Nabokov. DeBoer’s staff, which included Steve Spott, Dave Barr and Johan Hedberg, was also let go.
Ricci and Nabokov spent parts of their NHL careers in teal; Nabokov holds the franchise records for goaltender wins (293) and Ricci is 10th with 38 power-play goals.
Before joining San Jose, DeBoer was the New Jersey Devils’ head coach for three-plus seasons. He led them to the 2012 Stanley Cup Final, also in his first season with the club, and had a 114-93-41 regular-season record. He was at the helm of the Panthers from 2008-11, going 103-107-36.
DeBoer is the fifth NHL coach to be relieved of his duties this season, joining Mike Babcock (Toronto Maple Leafs), Bill Peters (Calgary Flames), John Hynes (Devils) and Jim Montgomery (Dallas Stars).
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