By Tommy Fradenburg
The Las Vegas Golden Knights of the National Hockey League have fired head coach Gerard Gallant after two-plus years at the helm of the league’s most recent expansion franchise.
The Golden Knights “relieved Gerard Gallant and Mike Kelly [assistant coach] of their coaching duties,” in a statement released by general manager Kelly McCrimmon on Wednesday.
Also in his statement sent to the media McCrimmon thanked both Gallant and Kelly for their services to the franchise (which include two postseason berths and an appearance in the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural year) but acknowledged, “in order for our team to reach its full potential, we determined a coaching change was needed. Our team is capable of more than we have demonstrated this season.”
The Golden Knights have made the following coaching changes:
Gerard Gallant & Mike Kelly have been relieved of their coaching duties
Peter DeBoer has been named head coachhttps://t.co/rQsULKgYzR
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) January 15, 2020
In his tenure with the Golden Knights Gallant boasted a record of 118-75-20 and earned the Jack Adams coach of the year award in 2018 after leading Las Vegas all the way to the Stanley Cup Final before getting swept by Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.
Despite strong numbers and maintaining a hold on a playoff spot for the third time in as many years of the franchise’s history, the Golden Knights haven’t lived up to their expectations this year. They are just over .500 with a record of 24-19-6, but their points percentage has continually dropped from .665 in their inaugural year (good for 3rd in the NHL) to .551 (9th in the Western conference).
Their 54 points so far this season has them eight points above the Sharks for the final wild card playoff spot, but a GM with head coaching experience like McCrimmon has a short leash when it come those running his team.
Gallant’s replacement is Peter DeBoer, who was recently fired by the San Jose Sharks. DeBoer has a career record of 415-329-111 over his time with the Florida Panthers, New Jersey Devils and Sharks.
— Sharks on NBCS (@NBCSSharks) January 15, 2020
DeBoer has a pedigree of success in the postseason, leading both the Devils and the Sharks to Stanley Cup Championships in his first year at the wheel for both squads, but was fired after starting the season just 15-16-2 in San Jose this year. He was also an accomplished scorer and passer in the Ontario and International Hockey Leagues, scoring 144 goals and 165 assists over his seven years with the Windsor Compuware Spitfires and the Milwaukee Admirals. He was also drafted 237th by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1988 NHL Entry draft, but never played in the NHL.
He hung up his skates after a 28 goal, 37 assist season with the Admirals in 1990-91 and got his coaching career started with the Junior Detroit Red Wings (who then became the Detroit Whalers and eventually the Plymouth Whalers) as an assistant coach for the 1994-95 season and became the head coach in the 1995 offseason.
In 2002 DeBoer took the head coaching position with another OHL team, the Kitchener Rangers and finally made the jump to the NHL in 2008, taking over the Florida Panthers. His first test will come on the road against the Ottawa Senators tonight at 7:30 p.m.