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 challenging circumstances we’ve witnessed since our franchise entered the NHL. After lengthy discussions over the last two weeks, we believe that a new coach will put us in the best position to succeed 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 seasons in the NHL. DeBoer had a record of 98-50-12 in his three seasons in Vegas, leading the Golden Knights to the conference final in 2020 and the playoffs’ penultimate round in 2021 but failing to make the Stanley Cup Final in both seasons.
This season, the Golden Knights struggled through injuries and salary cap-related lineup challenges to finish with a 43-31-8 (94 points) record, missing the playoff cut by four points. They had a late-season stretch that saw the Knights get one win in six critical games, including a shootout loss at the Dallas Stars that acted as a de facto playoff game.
Vegas made the Stanley Cup Final in its first season in the NHL, losing to the Washington Capitals in 2018. Owner Bill Foley has been aggressively adding veteran talent since then in the hopes of winning that elusive championship. The Knights have one of the NHL’s highest-salaried teams, with a cap number that ballooned even larger when they made a blockbuster trade for Buffalo Sabres star Jack Eichel during the season.
Foley told the Las Vegas Journal-Review recently that the team had “lost a little personality” in the past few years due to the roster moves necessitated by the salary cap.
“Our goal is to get back to this identity of never giving up, never giving in and being a team. I believe we did move away from that identity somewhat with all the changes that have been made and the constant machinations,” he said. “I’d say we’re going to be a team now that we’re ‘Ready, aim, fire’ not ‘Ready, fire, aim.’ We’re going to be careful. That’s a big priority for me, and I’m going to be involved in it.”
Vegas fires its coach at a time when several high-profile coaches are seeking new jobs. The New York Islanders fired Barry Trotz last week, the coach who beat the Knights in the Stanley Cup Final. If he ends up in Las Vegas, it would look like something of a pattern: DeBoer was hired after his San Jose Sharks defeated Vegas in the Western Conference playoffs.
Other coaches seeking gigs include Claude Julien, who won a Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins; Paul Maurice (775) and Alain Vigneault (772), who are seventh and eighth in career wins, respectively; Mike Babcock, who last coached the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2019-20 and has faced accusations of mental abuse of players; and Joel Quenneville, who resigned from the Florida Panthers in disgrace after just seven games this season after a report detailed his role in the mishandling of allegations that a player was sexually abused by an assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010.
Quenneville would have to ask NHL commissioner Gary Bettman for permission to return to the league, and he hadn’t done so as of last week.