Pete DeBoer doesn’t know that he’ll return as coach of the Vegas Golden Knights, however he hopes that’s the case.
“I need to be again,” DeBoer stated throughout his end-of-season media availability Tuesday. “I need to coach this staff once more. We by no means received an opportunity to do what we’re able to doing. Any such season has to gas you for subsequent yr.”
DeBoer is below contract with Vegas subsequent season. However he’s additionally had a couple of days to mirror on his place inside the group, following the Golden Knights’ beautiful late-season collapse.
Now in his third yr behind Vegas’ bench — he took over from the fired Gerard Gallant halfway by the 2019-20 marketing campaign — DeBoer had guided the Golden Knights to the postseason twice earlier than. This was the primary yr in franchise historical past Vegas, which began enjoying within the 2017-18 season, did not be playoff-bound, a destiny few would have predicted final winter.
The Golden Knights had been a Western Convention powerhouse for a lot of the yr, sitting atop of the Pacific Division in mid-February with a 28-16-3 document. Then catastrophe struck within the type of compounding accidents. Mark Stone, Alec Martinez, Max Pacioretty, Reilly Smith, Robin Lehner and others all missed vital time. Even getting a wholesome Jack Eichel again in late February, following November surgical procedure on a herniated disc, wasn’t sufficient to maintain Vegas afloat.
Add to these issues the Golden Knights’ mystifying power-play points (they had been twenty fifth general with the additional man at 18.4%), and Vegas’ prospects grew steadily worse.
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The staff went 15-15-5 to complete the yr. Vegas tumbled down the standings however nonetheless had a number of possibilities to clinch a wild card berth. Lacking these possibilities has left DeBoer feeling like he’s in some form of limbo. He plans to satisfy with Vegas common supervisor Kelly McCrimmon and president of hockey operations George McPhee to debate what’s subsequent.
“I used to be upset with the outcomes,” DeBoer stated. “I wasn’t upset with the efforts. I feel our group had a ton of adversity thrown at them. I actually felt they gave me what that they had each night time.”
DeBoer had his personal challenges to navigate. Not solely was he lacking key items of the lineup for a lot of the yr, however the staff’s wage cap constraints additionally made it troublesome at occasions even to ice 4 traces and three pairings.
McCrimmon and firm finessed Vegas’ cap area state of affairs by transferring Stone to LTIR in February and trying to commerce Evgeni Dadonov to Anaheim on the March deadline — a transfer that was disallowed as a result of Geese being on Dadonov’s no-trade listing – however cap points haunted Vegas all yr lengthy.
“The truth of this season, after I look again 10 years from now, is (we had over) 500-man video games misplaced (to harm),” DeBoer stated. “That bled into the whole lot. If we had common well being, we may have had 105 factors and if we had (higher than) common well being, we’re competing for a Presidents Trophy. I’m not utilizing accidents as an excuse. However we by no means had a chance to get the entire group collectively. On the finish, we had a bit stretch the place I believed it seemed harmful.”
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Then there was the Lehner difficulty. Vegas’ beginning goaltender suffered a shoulder harm in early February, rehabbed his means again into the crease by March, however was by no means totally wholesome. His state of affairs hit a boiling level on April 20, when Lehner allowed one objective on 13 pictures towards Washington and was pulled after the primary interval.
DeBoer stated after that recreation Lehner was “wholesome, he’s contemporary, he’s received a number of vitality” however ESPN’s Emily Kaplan reported that Lehner had knowledgeable the Golden Knights that he was going to have season-ending surgical procedure. DeBoer denied that was the case, and Lehner did in actual fact costume as backup for Logan Thompson towards the San Jose Sharks on April 24. The next day, Vegas confirmed Lehner was being shut right down to have surgical procedure.
When DeBoer was requested Tuesday if Lehner’s option to go below the knife caught him off guard, DeBoer stated “nothing surprises me anymore.” He additionally stated Lehner has but to bear his surgical procedure however believes it’s taking place within the subsequent week.
On the identical time, DeBoer clarified his personal feedback about Lehner’s standing.
“Once I used the phrase ‘wholesome,’ that was the unsuitable phrase to make use of. That’s on me,” he stated. “I’ve little doubt about Robin Lehner’s skill.”
Additionally on the harm entrance, DeBoer stated goaltender Laurent Brossoit will bear a “medical process” within the offseason. Brossoit had been sidelined with an undisclosed ailment since March 15.