In a regular season packed to the brim with coaching casualties, the Vegas Golden Knights added to that list by disposing of Head Coach Gerard Gallant today.
In what was a shocking and truly unexpected turn of events, the Vegas Golden Knights parted ways with Gallant and Assistant Coach Mike Kelly, while bringing in Peter DeBoer as their new Head Coach.
It was a move that sent shockwaves throughout the hockey world and, on early evidence, this seems like a true panic move by the Vegas front office.
After all, the Golden Knights may have dropped four straight following a 4-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday and fallen to fifth in the Pacific Division as a result, but they still ranked high in a number of statistical categories.
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And, furthermore, Gallant had earned his stripes with this team and it seemed only a matter of time until everything clicked into place and the Knights fulfilled their potential.
However, we do live in a ‘what have you done for me lately’ culture and, as we know all too well in professional sports, time waits for no man.
That has proven to be the case today and while Gallant will always go down as the coach who led an expansion team to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural year, life must go on.
Step forward Peter DeBoer.
The veteran coach, who was sacked by the San Jose Sharks on Dec. 11 after a 15-16-2 start this year, will inherit a talented roster that still has plenty to give this season.
Granted, this is a team not without flaws and DeBoer will have to hope that his new General Manager goes out and acquires a puck-moving defenseman and some secondary scoring help before the Trade Deadline on Feb. 24.
But, make no doubt about it, DeBoer has absolutely landed on his feet with this opportunity.
Because, while most Head Coaches that walk into new jobs may inherit fractured dressing rooms or a team bereft of talent, DeBoer is walking into almost a dream-like situation.
From a future Hall of Fame goalie in Marc-Andre Fleury to one of the most potent top six forward units in the NHL, DeBoer is inheriting a talented roster that is in the middle of their Stanley Cup window.
Of course, DeBoer is also taking over a team that has dropped four straight and are nowhere near the peak of their powers, but all the tools are there for the new sheriff in town to utilize.
Not only that but the Golden Knights are in contention to win the Pacific Division along with four other franchises, so DeBoer must be licking his lips at the thought of taking a job with a team that is ready to win now.
That doesn’t happen often.
Obviously, as a result, the pressure will be on DeBoer to mesh with his new team straightaway and he’s got just 33 games remaining of the regular season to ensure that the Knights make the postseason for the third straight year.
And there will be no honeymoon period. DeBoer has been brought in not just to ensure that Vegas is a playoff team, but to also take them all the way and satisfy this organization’s Stanley Cup craving.
At this point, I don’t think anything else will be acceptable.
So, while Peter DeBoer won’t have time to celebrate his new gig before getting down to work, he can perhaps consider himself lucky that he’s landed on his feet with a team built to win right now.
Not many other coaches sacked get that opportunity, especially in the same season.