OTTAWA — Peter DeBoer said he didn’t need much time to ponder the offer to become coach of the Vegas Golden Knights.
DeBoer, fired as the coach of the San Jose Sharks on Dec. 11, was sitting poolside with his wife and daughter in Florida on Tuesday when he was contacted by the Golden Knights.
“It really came out of left field,” DeBoer said Thursday. “But obviously when I realized when there might be an opportunity here to do that, you don’t have to think very long about a job like this.
“If you’re lining up the jobs in the League, this is very much near the top of the list.”
DeBoer’s decision to accept was so quick, he didn’t have time to bring a suit or skates to Ottawa, where he’ll coach his first game for the Golden Knights when they play the Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; TSN5, RDS2, ATTSN-RM, NHL.TV).
He replaces Gerard Gallant, who was fired on Wednesday.
DeBoer said he knows the Golden Knights well. He coached the Sharks during their seven-game win against them last season after trailing the best-of-7 Western Conference First Round series 3-1, and in San Jose’s second-round playoff loss to Vegas in 2018. He also faced the Golden Knights often in the regular season as a Pacific Division rival.
“I’ve got a unique perspective. I’ve seen more of these guys than I’ve seen of my wife and kids in the past three years, it feels like” DeBoer said. “When you’re on the other bench — and it’s part of what I told the players — you get an outside perspective of what they have. And I can tell you, it’s so positive. Their work ethic, their compete, the character in that room, what they’ve done considering where they’ve come from as an expansion team, there’s a huge amount of respect.
“The one thing I learned in San Jose, you can walk into a dressing room full of character, you can find your way through the turbulent waters. I think that’s probably the case here. I think we have a real good group of men that care, and we’ll find our way through it.”
DeBoer was 15-16-2 with the Sharks this season before he was replaced by Bob Boughner. DeBoer was 198-129-34 in five seasons with San Jose, qualifying for the playoffs in his four full seasons, including going to the Stanley Cup Final in 2016.
He is 415-329-111 in 12 NHL seasons with the Sharks, New Jersey Devils and Florida Panthers. DeBoer coached New Jersey to the 2012 Stanley Cup Final, when it lost in six games to the Los Angeles Kings. San Jose lost the 2016 Cup Final to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games. DeBoer is 46-38 in 84 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Gallant, the first coach in Golden Knights history, was hired April 13, 2017, went 118-75-20 in three seasons with Vegas, and made the playoffs in each of his first two. Vegas advanced to the Cup Final in 2017-18, its first NHL season, and lost in five games to the Washington Capitals.
The Golden Knights (24-19-6) are fifth in the Pacific and tied with the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference.
“These games until the (All-Star) break, I’m going to use to get to know the guys and the team,” DeBoer said.
From the moment he accepted the job, DeBoer had a whirlwind 36 hours to get from Sarasota, Florida, to Ottawa. Because of a cancelled flight, he only arrived at the arena 20 minutes before his introductory press conference and did not take part in the Golden Knights morning skate.
Forward Mark Stone said it was weird hearing DeBoer was becoming the team’s new coach.
“Ten months ago, I couldn’t say nice things about him. We don’t say any nice things about the San Jose Sharks in our locker room. But I think he’s excited to join this team,” Stone said Thursday. “It’s a great organization to be a part of. He wouldn’t have taken this job so quickly if it wasn’t.
“We know we have a good team and the way things are run here they give us the best opportunity to win a Stanley Cup.”