Dallas Stars new manager Peter DeBoer got “excited again” a month after losing his job with the Vegas Golden Knights

DALLAS – Peter DeBoer didn’t hesitate to return to coaching with the Dallas Stars about a month after being fired from the Vegas Golden Knights.

Now he is ready to try to trigger the attack of the only playoff team to be overcome during the 2021-22 regular season.

“The Vegas one blew me away,” DeBoer said during his introductory press conference Wednesday, sitting next to CEO Jim Nill with Captain Jamie Benn in the audience.

“I think as a veteran coach and coach who has been through this before, you lick your wounds for a couple of days, think about what you could have done differently,” he said. “And then the phone starts ringing and you start diving into interested teams and you start getting aroused again.”

It made sense that DeBoer, 54, wouldn’t wait for his fifth chance as head coach in the NHL. The Las Vegas layoff bothered him because he thought the coaching staff were keeping playoff hopes alive longer than expected in an injury-plagued season.

Plus, DeBoer never took a year off between other stints. In fact, Vegas hired him the same season he was fired from the San Jose Sharks (2019-20), and led the Golden Knights to the Western Conference final in Canada’s playoff bubble before losing to Dallas.

DeBoer, whose first NHL coaching job was with Florida, reached the Stanley Cup final twice in a first season, with the New Jersey Devils in 2011-12 and with San Jose four years later. His Devils lost to the Los Angeles Kings and his Sharks lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Since Nill believes Dallas has a roster capable of such a run, he said the decision was an easy one.

“I’m a great resume guy,” Nill said. “This is a tough championship and it’s hard to coach and you have to be able to handle situations. I know Pete can do it.”

The Stars want to score more goals without sacrificing the defensive structure that was top priority under Rick Bowness, who led Dallas to the Stanley Cup final on the bubble as an interim manager before landing a two-year deal.

After an overtime defeat to Calgary in Game 7 in the first round, 67-year-old Bowness said he would step away.

Dallas had the second-highest scoring line in franchise history with Jason Robertson, the fourth scorer with 40 goals in Stars history, Roope Hintz and Joe Pavelski, the future 38-year-old who was the captain of DeBoer with the Sharks and signed a one-year extension with Dallas during the season.

The problem was the highest-paid players, and previously high-scoring strikers, in Benn and Tyler Seguin.

Benn only scored 18 goals and a score of under-13 which was the worst in his 13 NHL seasons. Seguin, a six-time All-Star who missed all but three games in 2020-21 due to a hip lip tear and knee surgery, was 21-minus with 24 goals (49 points) . Seguin played late this season and against Calgary with a fractured left foot bone.

“I don’t think it’s a secret,” DeBoer said. “We want to unlock some of the offensive play for this group. What can we do better in terms of playing style to be better? The second thing is, individually, which individual players can we get the most from and what is the plan to do so? And this sometimes goes hand in hand with the style of play. “

Dallas has one of the best young defenders in the league in Miro Heiskanen, who will turn 23 next month. At the start of the season, he will be the same age as goalkeeper Jake Oettinger, whose debut season ended with a stellar performance against Calgary.

Anton Khudobin, the 36-year-old with a year left on his contract, is expected to be healthy again next season, and DeBoer has a history of giving veteran goalkeepers another chance after walking away from them.

“Like all young goalkeepers, you have to temper him. We all saw what he did in the playoffs,” said DeBoer of Oettinger, who played at Boston University with DeBoer’s son. “He will follow him next year. And our responsibility as coaches and as a team is to make sure we keep the foundation and structure around him.”

Nill, 64, hired DeBoer will only have one year left on his contract, but the coach said he received assurances from owner Tom Gaglardi that Nill would be “part of this while I’m here”. Nill said he had plans to be GM for several years and was working with Gaglardi on a succession plan.

“I think when you step out of this organization and get an outside perspective and look at the editorial and young talent coming and the mix of veterans and young kids, the future for this organization is really bright,” said DeBoer. “This is an important part of Jim and what he does, so it was a great piece for me.”

DeBoer’s first stop as an NHL manager was with the Florida Panthers, a team he led from 2008 to 2011.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Leave a Comment