For New Jersey Devils fans, the long, agonizing wait is officially over.
Oh, you thought I was talking about the Zach Parise saga coming to an end? Unfortunately that's not over yet, but after a three-month wait, Lou Lamoriello has finally found a replacement for Jacques Lemaire as head coach of the team.
On Tuesday afternoon, Lamoriello and the Devils introduced new head coach Peter DeBoer (an unlikely candidate in my eyes).
This brings an end to the Devils' long coaching search, where names such as Ken Hitchcock, Mike Eaves, Craig Ramsay, Michel Therrien and Guy Carbonneau were all mentioned as candidates.
At first glance, I thought to myself, "Well, we should have gotten a coach with a bit more experience than DeBoer." DeBoer comes over to New Jersey after he was fired as head coach of the Florida Panthers after a three-year stint behind the bench.
DeBoer's teams in Florida had very little success in his tenure. Then again, Florida is not necessarily a powerhouse franchise. The Panthers haven't been to the playoffs since 2000, and haven't won a playoff game since 1997. DeBoer had very little to work with, which is something that will completely change for him in New Jersey.
Although the Devils are coming off of their first playoff absence in 13 seasons, DeBoer is inheriting a much, much more talented team than he ever had in Florida. Yes, the Devils missed the playoffs last season, but let's keep in mind that the Devils were one of the hottest teams in the NHL in the second half of the season, as they went 26-7-3 after they traded captain Jamie Langenbrunner to Dallas.
The Devils had an abysmal 9-22-2 start to the season, before rookie head coach John MacLean was dumped in favor of Jacques Lemaire. Even after such a horrible start, the Devils still almost made the playoffs.
This is a Devils team that will have a healthy Zach Parise (which they didn't have last season), to go along with Ilya Kovalchuk. They have very good depth at forward, and their defense will see an upgrade with fourth overall draft pick Adam Larsson making his way to New Jersey. And don't forget the winningest goaltender of all time, Martin Brodeur.
One thing about the Devils, though, is that there are a lot of young, talented players on the roster. Mattias Tedenby, Jacob Josefson, Nick Palmieri and Larsson will all be in either their rookie season, or their second season in the NHL.
One thing DeBoer brings to the Devils is that he's had experience working with young players in the past. DeBoer coached in the OHL for 13 seasons before taking the reins in Florida, and he was a two-time OHL Coach of the Year.
One question that always surrounds the New Jersey Devils during the Lamoriello era is the job security of the head coach. Although the Devils are coming off a year without the playoffs and have a lot of young players, make no mistake about it, the Devils are a win-now team. That's how it's always been under Lamoriello, and that's how it always will be as long as he's in charge.
As successful as the Devils have been for the last 20 years, the head coaching position is basically a revolving door. The Devils have had 12 different coaches in the last 11 years. No coach has lasted more than two full seasons in New Jersey (that honor belongs to Pat Burns and Brent Sutter).
Only time will tell how long the latest coach lasts in New Jersey. But the goal in New Jersey is pretty simple: win and get to the playoffs. If the Devils fall into a hole early this season (like last season), you can bet DeBoer will be gone by January.
But make no mistake about it—there will be no excuse if DeBoer doesn't get the job done in New Jersey. He has a talented team to work with now, along with a great front office.
This is his chance to prove himself.