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The Puck Stops Here

Devils Have Their Disposable Coach

The New Jersey Devils hired their coach yesterday.  Former Florida Panther coach Peter DeBoer is their choice.  They made this choice on July 19th, well after the draft and free agent frenzy.  This is well after the other NHL teams hired their coaches.  As a result several top coaching candidates have already accepted head and assistant coaching position in the NHL and other leagues thus taking them out of running for the New Jersey position.

I have criticized the way the Devils handle their coaches.  It is clear that Peter DeBoer is seen as an interchangeable part.  I think he is most likely going to be replaced as Devils coach within two year and I think that is the way Lou Lamoreillo wants things.  He doesn’t want a longterm coach.  He would let DeBoer have a longterm run in the unlikely outcome of a Stanley Cup or runaway coach of the year, but otherwise this is a shortterm position.

DeBoer had three years as Florida Panther coach.  There he put up a record of 103-143 (with 36 regulation tie points).  That isn’t a particularly good record, but his team was not particularly good.  He did nothing to show us that he is an above average NHL coach during the run.  DeBoer’s strongest qualifications come from his OHL days.  He coached in the OHL for 13 seasons and in that time was a two-time coach of the year and won a Memorial Cup.  He has shown an ability to coach at the junior level, but there is a growing list of coaches who have done this who have not been good NHL coaches. 

DeBoer is probably as good a coach as you can get at this late stage of the game.  There were more choices a month ago when this move should have been made.

With all that said, there is a good chance DeBoer has short term success.  There is a good chance any New Jersey coach has short term success.  They had a poor start and strong finish but missed the playoffs.  They are a strong candidate to put up more points in 2011/12 than they did in 2010/11.  The coach of the year often goes to the coach of the most improved team and New Jersey could easily be the most improved team regardless of coaching.  It’s entirely possible that could get DeBoer in coach of the year consideration regardless of his performance.  That isn’t necessarily enough to save his coaching job.  New Jersey fired Claude Julien in 2007 just before the playoffs and he received a few coach of the year votes anyway.

Lou Lamoreillo does not hold coaching in particularly high regard.  He doesn’t make much of a commitment to any coach.  He waits much longer than any other GM to hire a coach and this reduces the talent pool he can hire from and the coach’s attachment to the team.  Nevertheless, eventually he needs to hire a coach.  Peter DeBoer is his man this year.  Let’s see how long it lasts.  I bet it won’t be a longterm situation even if DeBoer has some immediate success with the team.

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Comments

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All coaches are “interchangeable”. Nice way of showing DeBoer the door before he’s even coached one game in New Jersey. He did a lot with very little in south Florida.

Posted by tj77 from USA on 07/20/11 at 03:23 PM ET

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Completely ridiculous post.

Lamoriello is no fool. He was given a pass last year, but it’s no mystery that he is on a very short leash and will absolutely be canned if he can’t A) end the revolving door at coach and B) make a deep playoff run.

DeBoer brings the best of both worlds. With a Dineen or Carbonneau he’d have some people with plenty of upside, but no experience (and by proxy, no ability to command respect from the likes of Kovy and Parise). With the likes of Hitchcock and Therrien he not only has vastly expensive options, but two men who are known to wear thin very easily on their star players and will not likely be around for much longer.

DeBoer is a tremendous coach, and did A LOT with very little in Florida. He’s got reliable goaltending and an offense with an excellent top six; and could be the catalyst Clarkson needs to regain his form considering their days in Kitchener together.

Shrewd move by Lamoriello. The defense isn’t going to scare anyone, no question, but this is the same lineup many predicted to take the Atlantic last year until MacLean royally screwed the pooch.

Posted by Letanger on 07/20/11 at 05:17 PM ET

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You are so right. It’s just like in 2005 when Lou was totally rooting for Pat Burns to get cancer, just so he could find a way to get rid of him. We’ll see, “two year” down the road if you are right.

Posted by Whootenanit from New York on 07/21/11 at 11:37 AM ET

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fact [fakt] –noun
1.something that actually exists; reality; truth: Your fears have no basis in fact.
2.something known to exist or to have happened: Space travel is now a fact.
3.a truth known by actual experience or observation; something known to be true: Scientists gather facts about plant growth.

As per usual, PSH confuses his own opinion with facts and then builds his article based on that shaky foundation.

Lou Lamoreillo does not hold coaching in particularly high regard.  He doesn’t make much of a commitment to any coach.”

And you base that on what…

Pat Burns getting cancer?
Larry Robinson having stress/health issues?
Brent Sutter getting home sick?
Jacques Lemaire retiring…twice?

Lamoreillo has fired two coaches in the past 10 years, Claude Julien and John MacLean.  The MacLean firing was clearly the right decision (look at the before and after stats) and, if anything, it could be argued that Lamoreillo’s apparent loyalty to MacLean made him wait too long to wield the axe.  The Julien firing was certainly more questionable, but he had allegedly “lost the team” and the veterans were revolting.  Perhaps it was the wrong call, but the team certainly improved after Julien was canned.

You think that Lamoreillo holds the coaching position in low regard, a conclusion based on marginal evidence at best, yet you state it as a fact.

He waits much longer than any other GM to hire a coach and this reduces the talent pool he can hire from and the coach’s attachment to the team.”

Another perfect example of you stating something that you happen to believe as an actual fact. 

Fact - Lamoreillo took much longer than any other GM to hire a coach. 

Opinion - Lamoreillo waited much longer than any other GM to hire a coach. 

You have no idea what his motivation was, the reasons why the hiring took so long, nor what the Devils were doing in terms of the selection process from the time of Lemaire’s retirement to DeBoer’s hiring.  Perhaps he waited, perhaps the stronger candidates turned him down, or perhaps he was desperately trying to change Lemaire’s mind.  I suspect the latter, but I don’t know that for certain, and neither do you!

The length of time that Lamoreillo took to replace Lemaire is cited as another example of his lack of respect for the coaching position.  This is another flawed point.  One could easily argue that, given the revolving door of coaches in the Devils’ organization, that it was essential that Lamoreillo take his time to find the right man for the job.  Why rush to hire someone when training camp was still weeks away?  Yes, there are advantages to filling the position early (two of which you’ve cited above), but there are significant disadvantages to making a poor hiring decision based on an artificial timeline. 

Please learn the difference between what you think/believe/suspect and what you know to be a fact.  I find much of your writing to be insightful, but this sort of stuff makes you seem like a teenager who just discovered blogging.

Posted by Jim on 07/21/11 at 12:52 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.

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