The Sharks made the announcement on Thursday, right around the time the Buffalo Sabres were announcing Dan Bylsma as their new head coach.
DeBoer was canned by the New Jersey Devils 36 games into last season, which was his fourth with the team. Prior to that, he was behind the bench of the Florida Panthers for three seasons. Over the course of seven seasons, DeBoer has a 217-200-77 record.
He’s only coached in the post-season once and that was in New Jersey. He took the Devils to the Stanley Cup Final in his first season with the club (2011-2012), but he’s never been back to the playoffs since.
“Peter is a well-respected leader who possesses all of the characteristics we were looking for in our next head coach,” Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said. “He’s an extremely intelligent and innovative individual who likes to play an aggressive system. Peter has a track record of extracting the most out of his players and is willing to make tough decisions that are based on achieving team success. We’re extremely excited to have him leading our group.”
Sharks director of player development Larry Robinson has worked with DeBoer before and calls him a “detailed, smart hockey man.” Robinson was DeBoer’s assistant in New Jersey.
San Jose has to be hoping DeBoer can accomplish more in the post-season than his predecessor Todd McLellan, who was let go on April 20 after seven seasons with the Sharks. He took the team to the playoffs in his first six seasons, but early exits and the fact that San Jose missed the dance this season led to his departure.
The immediate temptation is to talk about how inexperienced DeBoer is at the playoffs, which is arguably where San Jose needs help the most. They can manage in the regular season, for the most part, and they’re eager to prove that the 2014-2015 season was but a blip on the proverbial radar. They’ll want to be back in the post-season and they’ll want to win. Duh.
But is DeBoer the right fit? The Robinson connection obviously matters and the Sharks were clearly in need of some kind of shakeup, what with some serious behind-the-scenes drama going on between Wilson and Joe Thornton. One has to imagine that things aren’t exactly level right now in San Jose, but maybe an uneasy peace is a nice way to approach new opportunities.
Maybe this is a case of taking what’s available. With Mike Babcock snapped up, DeBoer has to hop to the top of any list. And he’s capable of coaching an “aggressive system,” to hear Wilson tell it, which should fit the vision the Sharks have of themselves.
“It’s an honor and privilege to have the opportunity to coach the San Jose Sharks,” DeBoer said. “The Sharks have one of the most energetic buildings in the NHL and I am looking forward to the opportunity to roll up my sleeves and get to work with this group.”
Since talk of compensation has been all the rage lately with hiring coaches (seriously, will anyone have a third round pick left?), the Devils were not seeking anything from the Sharks for this hire. DeBoer had a year left on his contract with New Jersey before they kicked him to the curb.