The Superstars will hire experienced NHL coach Peter Debor to be their head coach, Sportsnet reports on Sunday night.
DeBoer recently coached in Vegas, but was fired this spring after the Golden Knights missed the playoffs. During periods in San Jose (2015-20) and New Jersey (2011-15), DeBoer teams advanced to the Stanley Cup Final in his first season at the helm. Debor also coached the Florida team (2008-11).
The stars did not announce hiring on Sunday night. Stars General Manager Jim Neal did not respond to a message from news.
DeBoer, 54, has a career of 0.566 percentage points and went 98-50-12 over parts of three seasons as the coach of the Golden Knights. Under DeBoer, Vegas was one of the top five teams in shot attempts, shots on goal, scoring chances, high-risk chances, goals and predicted goals (per 60 minutes from 5 on 5).
He spent parts of five seasons as head coach at San Jose, advancing to the 2016 Cup Final with current star striker Joe Pavlesky on the roster.
DeBoer will replace Rick Bowness as the Stars coach. Bowness’s contract expired at the end of that season, and he stepped aside shortly after Dallas’ first-round elimination from Calgary. Bowness was 89-62-25 during parts of three star-led seasons, which included reaching the cup final in 2020.
The Superstars began their search for coaching with 30-35 candidates on three different rosters: one for experienced NHL coaches, one for NHL assistant coaches who could be prepared for a major coaching opportunity, and one for coaches in AHL, Europe, college and beginner hockey.
“There are a lot of good candidates,” Neil said recently. “Unfortunately, a lot of good guys have been released from their teams this spring. On the good side, there are a lot of great candidates for us going forward. We’ll take our time. I think we’re a great destination for the next coach, whoever he is.”
Debor will be the fifth coach under Neil, joining Lindy Rove, Ken Hitchcock, Jim Montgomery and Bowness.
DeBoer teams have often been among the happiest shooting teams in the league due to their focus on point shots, especially on low to high passes from under the goal line. That’s part of the reason why Pavleski adapted to San Jose’s scheme, turning over shots from defenders and plowing on rebounds up front. It’s possible that Stars General Manager Jim Neal spoke with Pavelski about DeBoer during the research.
Bownis previously instructed the star-defenders to get more involved in the attack – jumping in the lunge, pressing into the walls and shooting from the point – but the Stars still ranked 25th in the NHL in goals scored by defenders (30). Vegas ranked third in the league with defensive goals (51), and second behind Colorado with 19.5% of goals coming from the blue line.
DeBoer’s teams also play a solid defense, with the Golden Knights allowing the third lowest number of shots per 60 minutes at 5 on 5 in the NHL during his tenure. Neil stated last month that the Superstars still value the coach and the system that prioritizes defense.
Vegas has struggled with power play under DeBoer, who finished 24th last season with 6.59 goals scored every 60 minutes thanks to his man advantage. The Golden Knights were mediocre in creating shot attempts and shots on target in strong play, but were also without major contributors such as Mark Stone, Max Pasuritti, Riley Smith and Jack Eichel for significant periods of the season.
DeBoer has been criticized recently for his handling of goalkeepers, most notably and publicly by agent Alan Walsh, representing Marc-Andre Fleury. When Florey was in the Golden Knights and started to ride in Vegas’ Robin Liner, Walsh tweeted a photo of Florey with a sword in his back. “DeBoer” wrote with a sword. In the run-up to the 2021-22 season, DeBoer and Lehner had friction as Lehner suffered an injury.
Regardless of whether DeBoer ends up behind the Stars seat, the next question heads to Nill, who only has a year left on his contract. Is there an extension in Neil’s place, or is the next coach going into the fall without knowing who will be the boss next season?
Find out more Stars coverage from The Dallas Morning News here.