General manager Kelly McCrimmon will meet with the media at 3:00 p.m. CT to address the firing. He said the following in a statement today:
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 appointed as the Golden Knights’ head coach midway through 2019-20 after the team fired Gerard Gallant due to a sluggish start. Through his two-and-a-half seasons in Vegas, DeBoer guided the team to a 98-50-12 record in 160 games (.650 points percentage). DeBoer had one year remaining on his contract, paying him $3.25MM.
His firing comes after the Golden Knights missed the playoffs this season for the first time in franchise history, dropping a series of key games down the stretch with a 4-2-4 record in their final 10 games. Some will be quick to defend DeBoer as the team suffered a laundry list of injuries to star players throughout the season, including captain Mark Stone, sniper Max Pacioretty, defenseman Alec Martinez, and starting netminder Robin Lehner.
However, while the Golden Knights still managed to generate chances offensively despite the injuries to key scorers, defense and special teams were where the team struggled the most this season. The team finished below league average on both the power play and penalty kill, and stellar play at the end of the season from youngster Logan Thompson in goal helped cover up some of the defensive shortcomings the team had developed throughout the year.
Vegas will need to do more than to just find a new bench boss for next season, though. The team is already in the red in terms of salary cap space, boasting a projected cap hit of $83.1MM for 2022-3. The team won’t be able to re-sign any pending UFAs to NHL deals (which include Reilly Smith and Mattias Janmark) and will likely need to shed another contract in order to become cap-compliant and reallocate a small amount of money in free agency. Moving forward, the team will need to count on a healthy and productive trio of Jack Eichel, Pacioretty, and Stone to avoid another disappointing season.
TSN’s Darren Dreger was the first to report.