By Dan Mount, Contributing Writer
It won’t be a good holiday for Peter DeBoer as the New Jersey Devils have fired him as their head coach after a 12-17-7 start that has left the Devils languishing in 13th place in a wide-open Eastern Conference.
DeBoer was midway through his fourth season when General Manager Lou Lamoriello made the change. Lamoriello declined to make a comment on a possible replacement to the Bergen Record’s beat reporter Tom Gulitti until he addressed the team.
Lamoriello has stepped in as an interim coach in the past and so has Jacques Lemaire for a couple of spells.
The Devils have been in the midst of an injury-plagued season. They have not won consecutive games since early last month, going 4-12-4 in their last 16. DeBoer, 46, went 114-93-41 during his tenure with the Devils.
DeBoer came over after the Florida Panthers let him go after the 2010-11 season. He led the Devils to the 2011-12 Stanley Cup Final, after upsetting the top-seeded and metro-area rival New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final. New Jersey ended up falling to the Los Angeles Kings in the Final.
The Devils have since missed the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, and have lost that defensive identity that they were once known for. New Jersey is 23rd in goals allowed and towards the bottom in goals scored. Cory Schneider has played well, but there has been some questions on how DeBoer used him and his backup Keith Kinkaid.
DeBoer may not be entirely to blame for what happened to the Devils, as management hasn’t done so hot in recent drafts. It seems that Lamoriello may have lost his touch in drafts for an organization that was once the model of consistency. The Devils grabbed many great picks from the years 1989-2000 when Lamoriello was first running New Jersey’s drafts. The last decade of drafts have been pretty crummy.
The cupboard has been left bare with old, slow and injury-riddled stars. There are some players like Eric Gelinas that could pan out, but they are still developing.
There’s no doubt that DeBoer will land on his feet. ESPN NHL reports Katie Strang speculated the he will land on his feet due to his sharp hockey mind.
Dan Mount is the editor for The Hockey Sentinel. He can be found on Twitter @DanMountSports and @Hockey_Sentinel.