The Vegas Golden Knights have fired coach Peter DeBoer after failing to make the playoffs for the first time in their short history.
“We would like to thank Pete DeBoer for his commitment to the Vegas Golden Knights over the past three seasons,” Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon said in a statement. “Since joining the organization, Pete and his staff have guided us through some of the most unique and difficult circumstances we have experienced since our franchise entered the NHL. After long discussions over the past two weeks, we believe a new manager will put us in the best position to be successful next season.”
DeBoer was the second coach hired by Vegas, in 2019-20, after coach Gerard Gallant was behind the bench for the team’s first two NHL seasons. DeBoer was 98-50-12 in his three seasons in Vegas, leading the Golden Knights to the conference finals in 2020 and the penultimate round of the playoffs in 2021, but didn’t managed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Finals in both seasons.
This season, the Golden Knights battled injuries and salary cap-related roster challenges to finish with a 43-31-8 record (94 points), missing the playoff cut by four points. They had a season-ending streak that saw the Knights earn a critical six-game win, including a shootout loss to the Dallas Stars that acted as a de facto playoff game.
Vegas made the Stanley Cup Final in his first NHL season, losing to the Washington Capitals in 2018. Since then, owner Bill Foley has been aggressively adding veteran talent in hopes of winning that elusive championship. The Knights have one of the highest-earning teams in the NHL, with a cap count that rose even further when they made a blockbuster trade for Buffalo Sabers star Jack Eichel during the season.
Foley recently told the Las Vegas Journal-Review that the team has “lost a bit of personality” over the past few years due to roster changes necessitated by the salary cap.
“Our goal is to get back to that identity of never giving up, never giving in and being a team. I think we’ve kind of moved away from that identity with all the changes that have been made and the constant machinations,” did he declare. “I would say we’re going to be a team now that we’re ‘Ready, aim, shoot’ and not ‘Ready, shoot, aim.’ imply.
Vegas is firing its coach at a time when several top coaches are looking for new jobs. The New York Islanders fired Barry Trotz last week, the coach who beat the Knights in the Stanley Cup Finals. If he ends up in Las Vegas, it would look like a pattern: DeBoer was hired after his San Jose Sharks beat Vegas in the Western Conference playoffs.
Other coaches looking for gigs include Claude Julien, who won the Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins; Paul Maurice (775) and Alain Vigneault (772), seventh and eighth respectively in career wins; Mike Babcock, who last coached the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2019-20 and faced charges of mentally abusing players; and Joel Quenneville, who resigned from the disgraced Florida Panthers after just seven games this season after a report detailed his role in mishandling allegations that a player was sexually abused by a Blackhawks assistant coach from Chicago in 2010.
Quenneville should ask NHL commissioner Gary Bettman for permission to return to the league, and he failed to do so last week.