Report: Sharks have talked to former Devils coach Pete DeBoer
Ex-Florida and New Jersey bench boss was let go by the Devils in December.
The big coaching news breaking this morning is that the Detroit Red Wings have granted teams permission to interview Mike Babcock. While we wait to find out whether the Sharks are involved in those sweepstakes, here's an update to the growing list of candidates they've already spoken to:
Pete DeBoer is quietly drawing interest. San Jose and Edmonton are among teams believed to have talked to DeBoer.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) May 8, 2015
DeBoer was fired by the Devils this past December after 248 regular season games, in addition to 24 playoff contests, behind the New Jersey bench. Prior to that, he spent three seasons coaching the Florida Panthers. In his first year with New Jersey, the 46-year-old led a Devils team that had missed the playoffs the previous season all the way to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final before losing to the Kings. The Devils followed that up by missing the playoffs in each of the next two seasons despite posting fantastic possession numbers over that span. The loss of Zach Parise to Minnesota and Ilya Kovalchuk to the KHL, combined with Martin Brodeur's continued steep decline, meant they simply couldn't turn that shot advantage into a similar one in the goal column.
But DeBoer deserves credit for squeezing auspicious underlying numbers out of an unimpressive roster, even if it was accomplished by playing boring, low-event hockey with a focus on shot suppression. That largely got away from the Devils at the start of the 2014-15 season though, perhaps due in large part to their aging roster, leading to DeBoer's dismissal. From In Lou We Trust at the time of the firing:
By numbers, their 49.8 Corsi% and a score-adjusted 48.6 Corsi% is not only far worse than previous seasons under DeBoer but it's further damaging as the Devils are a low-event team. This season, the Devils don't generate many attempts while the opposition absolutely has, which does not work well. While that's arguably on the players, blame for that much of a drop off in possession - as James Mirtle tweeted out earlier this month - does lie at the feet of the coaches at least to some extent. And possession definitely matters in hockey.
I don't think DeBoer was a bad coach. I don't think he would've lasted as long as he did if he wasn't. I do think the roster isn't that good with a lot of earlier risks taken and plans made just turning out sour. Like Patrik Elias getting old, a portion of the forwards getting hurt, Michael Ryder running into a 20+ game scoreless streak, and other roster-related issues. But I've also said that with repeated poor performances featuring inferior puck control and movement, DeBoer wasn't going to last. And now that's happened. So I don't think it wasn't an unjustified or a hasty decision to fire DeBoer.
DeBoer's record with the Devils is certainly a mixed bag but they were playing fundamentally good hockey under him prior to this season, even if that never manifested itself in positive results beyond the Cup run in year one. At the end of the day, at least he isn't Randy Carlyle.