The New Jersey Devils have named Pete DeBoer as the club's latest head coach.
After relieving Jacques Martin to concentrate solely on management in 2008, DeBoer's three seasons in Florida began in sparkling fashion, collecting 93 points (an improvement of eight points over the previous year) en route to a tiebreaking procedure - since re-written - which awarded the 8th and final playoff spot to Montreal (aka Year Three of the Canadiens' centenary).
Working through numerous stretches of injury, including two concussions to forward David Booth, 2009-10 was a dreadful affair, dropping to 77 points and the club's first-ever last place finish in the Southeast.
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DeBoer's final season in Sunrise saw another decline in points - to 72 - and 15th in the Eastern Conference after struggling mightily to score at even strength. And don't get us started on the power play.
GM Dale Tallon wasted little time in releasing DeBoer and offensive coach Jim Hulton (who earned the scorn of fans long before), later replacing them with Kevin Dineen and Craig Ramsay, respectively.
Luscious Lou more or less rehashed the party line on Pete:
"Peter DeBoer is an individual who I have watched coach over the past two decades at the junior, international, and professional levels. His teams have always been well-prepared and disciplined, while maximizing their effort each and every night."
Yes, he was disciplined, and likely well prepared. His teams for the most part were not, evidenced by an astounding number of one-goal losses, an inability to mount a physical response to escalating situations, and a general lack of emotion displayed when the roster - and fans - could have used it. That his teams never openly revolted is amazing in hindsight, especially as rumors persist of riffs with his players, Tomas Vokoun being the likeliest candidate.
He did not choose his players (though some may argue he certainly chose against playing this guy late in his first year), nor the celebrated JM-jumpoff, and definitely not the on-again, off-again sale of the franchise (since - thankfully - completed). He's a nice guy with a handsome family and may have found himself in the perfect situation: an established roster with legitimate scorers and a culture built on decades of the Lamoriello Legacy. Then again, that could as easily be a curse; John MacLean at least had the advantage of Lou's longtime grooming before receiving a very quick yank.
One aspect we'll keep a close on is how he ultimately works alongside Ilya Kovalchuk; a superstar forward is a gift he was never blessed with in South Florida.
Our best to Pete and his family and congrats on a quick return to the NHL.