by PuckStopsHere on 07/20/11 at 02:18 PM ET
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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