In an NHL season full of shocking training changes, add another to the list: The Golden Knights of Vegas fired Gerard Gallant and hired former San Jose coach Peter DeBoer, whom the Sharks fired last month.
The Knights also fired assistant Mike Kelly.
“For our team to reach its full potential, we determined that a change of coach was necessary. Our team is capable of more than we have shown this season,” Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon said in a statement.
“We would like to thank Gerard and Mike for their service to the Golden Knights of Las Vegas. Both were critical to the success we have enjoyed in our first two seasons and we wish them all the best to move forward.”
DeBoer holds an NHL coach record in his 415-329-111 career with the Florida Panthers, New Jersey Devils and Sharks. He led the last two teams to the Stanley Cup final, but lost both times. He was fired by Sharks when they had a 15-16-2 record on December 11 despite high expectations of entering the season. They have gone 6-7-2 since then.
Ironically, DeBoer is hired by the Knights after eliminating them in a seven-round first-round series last year, during which the Sharks recovered from a 3-0 deficit in the third period in the final game to eliminate Las Vegas
“At Peter DeBoer, we have an experienced and proven 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 good end to the 2019 -20 season. with Peter at the helm and a successful tenure in the coming seasons, “McCrimmon said.
Gallant holds a 118-75-20 record with the Golden Knights, having taken them to the Stanley Cup final in the team’s inaugural season in 2017-18, the same year he won the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year. But the Knights have been disappointing in the standings this season with a record of 24-19-6. His percentage of .551 points ranks ninth in the conference.
Despite being on top of the Pacific Division for most of this season, the Golden Knights have lost four straight and are tied with Winnipeg for the second wild card in the West.
The team has also been one of the most unfortunate in the NHL. The Golden Knights have the percentage of shots in 24th place with 7.5 percent. They are first by a wide margin in the expected goals in 5 against 5, heavy for shooting quality, at 106.93, but they are only 12 in real goals (98). In general, the Knights are ranked 17 in the NHL in goals per game (3.02) and are not getting a great goal, with a saving percentage of the team of .900 (19).
Gallant, 56, was hired by Vegas after a three-year period with Florida. He also trained Columbus. I was just over a week from training the Pacific Division team at the NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis.
Two of the last four Stanley Cup champions fired their coaches during the season they won: the Blues last season and the Penguins in 2015-16.
Gallant is the seventh coach to be fired at the NHL this season, joining Mike Babcock in Toronto, Bill Peters in Calgary, John Hynes in New Jersey, Jim Montgomery in Dallas, Peter Laviolette in Nashville and DeBoer.
The Stars turned around and hired Hynes to replace Montgomery, who was fired for non-professional conduct. Peters was fired after accusations of player abuse from his days in Carolina emerged.