Ex-Florida Panthers coach Pete DeBoer certainly won’t have the absence of talent that had at his previous gig. Tuesday, the New Jersey Devils named DeBoer the team’s new head coach three months after Jacques Lemaire said he would no longer be behind the bench. DeBoer comes to Newark after three seasons as bench boss in Sunrise, where he compiled a 103-107-36 record as a first-time NHL head coach.
For DeBoer, he has to feel like he just won the talent lottery after his time in Florida. From Stephen Weiss and David Booth, he gets to coach the likes of Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise. But with that comes the heavy expectation of winning unlike anything he ever had here. And let’s not forget, Devils GM Lou Lamoriello is the guy who fired John MacLean, who was a hero for the team as a player, two days before Christmas last season. Job security? There isn’t any if he gets off to the start this team had last season.
I’m sure Pete seems like an odd choice to some for a team that wants to win right now, but he did turn around the Kitchner Rangers in the OHL in his first season there. And yes, Kitchner is a far cry from the NHL, but he certainly has a lot to work with in future Hall-of-Fame goalie Martin Brodeur and top-six forwards who are legitimately top-six forwards.
It also helps that he’s coming to the Eastern Conference, where there are as more teams with questions marks as there are without any. And if you doubt that he can coach, take a look at this roster and realize he was able to get 93 points out of it. Now that’s not to say he’s ready to win the Jack Adamas Award, but the guy has some ability. This test in Jersey will show just how much, especially dealing with a dressing room that has a guy making $100 million. I think if you tally up the yearly payroll for the Panthers for every year he was here, it might total that much.
The Panthers and Devils hook up for the first time next season on November 21. Thanksgiving Feast Week should start off with a bang!
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