A source says on Monday that the Dallas Stars are nearing an agreement with Peter DeBoer to hire him as their next coach, confirming multiple reports.
TSN was the first to break the news.
DeBoer, 54, who was sacked by the Vegas Golden Knights at the end of the regular season, will take over a young team that made the Western Conference playoffs as the first wild-card entry before losing in seven games to the Calgary Flames.
The Stars will be DeBoer’s fifth NHL team, and he has already led two of them to the Stanley Cup Final: the New Jersey Devils (2012) and the San Jose Sharks (2016). He has 513 regular-season wins in the NHL and has led seven different clubs to the playoffs.
However, despite having numerous high-priced forwards on the roster, including star centre Jack Eichel, who was acquired from the Buffalo Sabres in November, his stint in Vegas was rocky, and the injury-plagued Golden Knights failed to make the playoffs this year.
The Golden Knights, who had never missed the playoffs in their five-year history, finished 43-31-8 with 94 points, while the Stars and Nashville Predators clinched the Western Conference’s two wild-card places in the last week of the regular season.
DeBoer was unequivocal about wanting to stay in Vegas during the team’s end-of-season media availability on May 4, saying: “I want to be back. I want to coach this team .”
He was fired two weeks later, and Vegas hired Bruce Cassidy, a former Boston Bruins coach, as his replacement last week. Dallas general manager Jim Nill finally swooped in and signed DeBoer after a long wait.
“The reality of this season, and what I’ll look back 10 years from now, is going to be 500-man games lost, that bled into everything we did,” DeBoer said after Vegas’ season ended. “The only other teams that had that many all finished last in their division.”
DeBoer will replace Rick Bowness in Dallas, where he will have high-end offensive talent to work with, as well as a young goaltender in Jake Oettinger, 23, who shone in the Flames’ first-round loss. Despite losing in overtime in Game 7, Oettinger made 64 saves.
Under Bowness, the Stars advanced to the Stanley Cup Final in Edmonton, Alberta in 2020, with first-line stars Jason Robertson, 22, and Roope Hintz, 25, as well as two valuable veterans in Jamie Benn, 32, and Tyler Seguin, 30, who have been with the organisation for 13 and nine seasons, respectively.
“I love this franchise. I love this city. I think we’ve got a special thing going here,” Nill said after the season ended. “I’m excited about the future.”
Bowness stepped down as coach after the Stars lost Game 7 in Calgary, saying in a statement that he wanted to “allow the organisation the opportunity to pursue a different direction.” Bowness guided Dallas to the 2020 Cup Final, where they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
DeBoer’s first job in the NHL was as head coach of the Florida Panthers, which he coached from 2008 to 2011.