The Peter DeBoer era has begun in San Jose with the Sharks official announcement today of their new head coach.
"The expectation is to win right now, regardless of the ages or birth certificates of the players" DeBoer said at the press conference inside SAP Center. "I don't think that anyone's looking for anything less than that here."
DeBoer, 46, coached 13 seasons in the OHL, winning the OHL Coach of the Year award twice, and CHL Coach of the Year once in that span. He has six and a half seasons of NHL experience, posting a 217-200-77 record in that time. He was fired from the Devils mid-way through this past season after a 12-17-7 start.
DeBoer's system in New Jersey gave the team an extra jolt of offense from a team that had a history of being extremely conservative. "I don’t think I’m a defensive coach, I’m a pressure coach," DeBoer said. He said he wants to stress a system that forces pressure in all three zones.
That was his only trip to the postseason, however the Devils roster significantly weakened in following years, losing Zach Parise that offseason, and Ilya Kovalchuk the following year.
Despite the talent loss, DeBoer’s teams in continued to post very puck possession numbers. In fact, in the 2012-13 season, the Devils had the second best corsi-for percentage at 55.9%. They followed that up with a top three finish the next season at 54.4%.
"When we don’t have the puck, we need to get it back as quickly as possible," DeBoer said. "If you have the puck, the other team’s not scoring."
DeBoer will officially be the eighth head coach in Sharks history – ninth if you count interim coach Cap Raeder who coached the team for one game in 2002 bridging the gap between the Darryl Sutter and Ron Wilson eras.
General Manager Doug Wilson said he liked DeBoer’s mindset, calling him "curious, creative, hard, and fair." He said DeBoer was very favorably referenced by former associate head coach Larry Robinson, and former Shark Adam Graves.
Wilson said he was one of three finalists for the head coaching job back in 2008, but the lack of NHL experience at the time compared to Todd McLellan made a difference then.
DeBoer have big shoes to fill with Todd McLellan parting ways with the team this offseason and heading to Edmonton. McLellan leads the Sharks franchise in games coached, wins, and winning percentage – again, ignoring Cap Raeder’s unblemished 1.000 winning percentage.
"I think we have some philosophies the same, but where we put our emphasis is different," DeBoer said of McLellan.
In his time with New Jersey, DeBoer also wasn’t afraid to give significant time to the relatively small, skilled fourth line of Stephen Gionta, Ryan Carter and Steve Bernier. That trio scored 7 points each in the run to the Finals.
There were some concerns out of New Jersey that DeBoer had some trouble developing young players, most notably defenseman Adam Larsson. DeBoer pointed out other examples in his time of young players stepping in and excelling, like Adam Henrique, Jon Merrill, and Damon Severson.
DeBoer hasn’t had much experience coaching players currently on the San Jose roster, though he did say he coached Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton in an under-18 tournament before they were drafted into the NHL.
Most recently, however, he just had the chance to coach Brent Burns at the World Championships in Prague. DeBoer said he loved Burns’ attitude and energy, and that Burns was "turning himself into a world class defenseman."
In that tournament, DeBoer said he thought of asking McLellan about the Sharks roster, but decided against it.
"I didn’t want to go in with pre-conceived notions of this group," DeBoer said. "I want to be clear and clean and give everyone a clean slate."