There was a lot of hype around Peter DeBoer when he came on a New Jersey Devils head coach before the 2011-2012 season. The hype turned into a reality as the Devils made the playoffs as a six seed, and stormed their way through the Florida Panthers in seven games, the Flyers in five games, and the Rangers in six games to reach their first Stanley Cup Final since they won the Stanley Cup back in 2003. They lost to the Los Angeles Kings in six games after having a chance of forcing a game seven back in New Jersey in trying to come back from a 3-0 series deficit. That all we know, but it’s the season that followed, which the Devils and DeBoer struggled regain that same charisma they had in 2012.
The following season, which happened to be the lockout-shortened season and the off-season where Zach Parise left for the Minnesota Wild, the Devils finished 19-19-10, and did not qualify for the playoffs. The off-season that followed saw the departure of Ilya Kovalchuk and David Clarkson, which was a blow that the team simply couldn’t recover from, even with a rejuvenated Jaromir Jagr who led the team in scoring. They finished above NHL .500 at 35-29-18, but they didn’t win a shootout all season, and because of which, they barely missed the playoffs by five points.
Last season was a brutal one for Devils fans as the team struggled out of the gate, and could never really get on a hot stretch with their inconsistent goal scoring. They finished 28th in the league in goals-per-game, and halfway through the season, Devils GM Lou Lamoriello, who is now with the Toronto Maple Leafs, pulled the plug on DeBoer’s tenure with the Devils after only three full seasons with the club.
The Present Peter DeBoer
That’s the past, in the present, DeBoer is the head coach of the 3-0-0 San Jose Sharks, who have blown the doors open to start the season, and will head into New Jersey on Friday off the heels of a 5-0 thrashing of the Washington Capitals.
DeBoer is a coach who’s system simply needs as much talent as possible to be successful. I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that when the Devils has Kovalchuk and Parise that the team went on to do what they did. Maybe they overachieved a bit, but that was a very good team that played DeBoer’s system to an absolute tee. Once DeBoer lost those players there wasn’t much he could do with what he had because the remaining players couldn’t play up to the level that DeBoer was asking of them. As the team lost talent, their record got progressively worse, and while everything wasn’t DeBoer’s fault, there were still things he could have done better.
The first aspect of what DeBoer needed improvement on was developing young players. Adam Henrique stepped up when Travis Zajac tore his Achilles, but other than Henrique, no other prospect was given the opportunity to contribute consistently. We also probably wouldn’t see Adam Larsson bloom into the stud defensemen that we all thought he could be under DeBoer, as he never trusted Larsson in the slightest, and would constantly make him a healthy scratch.
DeBoer Vs Hynes
When DeBoer was hired he was the right guy for the job, just like how he’s the right guy for the job for the Sharks. The Sharks have had the talent to succeed in the playoffs for a long time, but they have always fallen short. DeBoer is the type of coach that once his system is implemented, it makes it very difficult for other teams to put up a fight against it.
— Stan Fischler (@StanFischler) October 8, 2015
In relation to now Devils head coach John Hynes, the two couldn’t be more different. Hynes was brought in under now Devils GM Ray Shero to be a teacher for this team, and while he’s made a few mistakes in his first couple games as their new bench boss, it’s about the long-term, which makes it easier to accept the way this team is playing at the moment.
DeBoer we have already touched on, but this was the correct move for both teams moving forward. These are teams headed in opposite directions, and on Friday night, after everything DeBoer had to go through with his sub-par teams over the past two seasons, I’m sure he can’t wait to unleash all of his big guns against this underwhelming Devils team.
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