It took a lot longer than many expected, but in the end, the timing doesn't mean all that much. It's not like training camp has happened yet. Yes, there was development camp, but most of the guys won't be up with the big club for at least a couple of seasons.
It's not like the philosophical foundation of the franchise is expected to change all that much either, so bringing in Peter DeBoer to be the new head coach of the New Jersey Devils, is a bit of a surprise to some, but in my opinion a bold move by GM Lou Lamoriello to bring in a good candidate to take the reins.
DeBoer, age 43, brings to the Devils three years of NHL head coaching experience, and 13 years of experience at the helm in junior hockey. While he didn't have any success in his record at the NHL level, he definitely learned the ropes working with a team that didn't have nearly the talent level the Devils have in their stable.
The biggest obstacle DeBoer faces is how he will handle Ilya Kovalchuk, and if he can earn his respect anywhere close to the way Jacques Lemaire did. Ultimately, he will have to make sure to not make the same mistakes his predecessor John MacLean faced. Dealing with Kovalchuk seems to be a unique type of situation, so it will be wise for DeBoer to handle it with care.
The second biggest obstacle will be for DeBoer to bring the Devils back to their winning ways, and restore the winning tradition this franchise had built up over the last 18 years or so, that crumbled so quickly during last year's debacle. The easiest way to do that would be to re-instill the strong defensive foundation with the ability to
DeBoer has a close relationship with former Devils coach Brent Sutter, who was quoted as saying, "It's a great choice by Lou and the organization. And to me it's a good fit for Pete. Lou is fantastic. He's a loyal man. He cares very deeply about people inside the organization. Pete's going to find that out quickly."
DeBoer worked as an assistant under Sutter and is expected to implement a similar high-pressure, puck-possession type of system.
If DeBoer is successful implementing a system similar to Brent Sutter's, it's bound to keep players like Zach Parise quite happy, as Parise thrived under Sutter. As did Travis Zajac and Patrik Elias, plus David Clarkson had a great run at the junior level at Kitchener under the coaching of DeBoer.
Many expect Peter DeBoer to bring the long-term hope to be Devils head coach that this franchise hasn't seen in some time. Although not all the fault of Lou Lamoriello, the head coach spot has been the equivalent of a turnstile in recent years as the Devils have gone through head coaches like water since the lockout.
Can Peter DeBoer be that guy?
Time will tell, but my expectation for now is I expect DeBoer to be a good fit and to thrive in the loyal environment Lou Lamoriello has built in New Jersey.
Many outside Lamoriello's network mock and poke fun at the "empire" Lamoriello has built with the Devils, but if you take a look at the people around him, people like Jacques Lemaire, Larry Robinson, Scott Stevens and Martin Brodeur have gone out of their way to stay with Lamoriello, there's no reason to expect Peter DeBoer to not be in a position to stay potentially in that "network" for years to come.
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