9:00pm CT: The Sharks have officially named Boughner as interim head coach and have confirmed the dismissals of Deboer, Barr, Spott, and Hedberg. Joining Boughner’s staff are former Sharks players and development coaches Mike Ricci and Evgeni Nabokov, as well as AHL head coach Roy Sommer. Sommer’s vacated newposition will shared by Jimmy Bonneau and Michael Chiasson, the Barracuda announced.
7:00pm CT: NHL head coaches continue to drop like flies. Refreshingly, this latest move is reportedly purely a hockey decision. Several sources, including Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, report that the San Jose Sharks have fired head coach Peter Deboer. Deboer, who was in his fifth year with the Sharks, had one more year remaining on his current contract.
While the team has yet to confirm any personnel moves, many sources believe that assistant Bob Boughner, the former Florida Panthers head coach, will take over as the head coach in San Jose. However, The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta reports that the organization is set to clean house otherwise. Assistants Dave Barr, Steve Spott, and Johan Hedberg are also reported to have been fired.
In 361 games with the Sharks, Deboer coached the team to a 198-129-34 record. He took San Jose to the playoffs in each of his four full seasons, including a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2017 and Western Conference Final berth just this past year. However, the team has gotten off to a poor start with a 15-16-2 record through 33 games. The Sharks are just 12th in the conference standings and sport the worst goals against average in the West as well.
While management felt that the team’s struggles could be addressed by a coaching change, critics of this decision will point to the poor play of goalies Martin Jones and Aaron Dell for well over a year now – the pair have the NHL’s worst even strength goals against average this season – and the decision by the front office not to address the position as the core source of the problems in San Jose. However, the Sharks are dealing with more issues that just goaltending this year, as they are 24th in scoring and 23rd in power play efficiency as well.
Luckily for the Sharks, Boughner is not your typical interim head coach. The former NHL defenseman was replaced in Florida not because of his performance so much as the availability of Joel Quenneville. He was then a serious candidate for the Buffalo Sabres’ vacancy this summer before returning to San Jose. Boughner enjoyed a long career as a shutdown defender and has a strong grasp on those aspects of the game. Seeing as the Sharks have just two positive plus/minus players in their starting lineup in Logan Couture and Barclay Goodrow, the team can certainly stand to play a tighter defensive game. Barring a change in personnel in goal, Boughner could be the next-best option for the Sharks to stop allowing so many goals.
With Deboer’s dismissal, there have now been five head coaches fired in the NHL this season, all of which have come within the past 22 days. Beginning with Toronto relieving Mike Babcock on November 20, Calgary’s Bill Peters, New Jersey’s John Hynes and, just yesterday, Dallas’ Jim Montgomery have all lost their jobs as well. Sadly, the news today out of San Jose had to be qualified as “a hockey decision”, given the recent spotlight on coach abuse in hockey, which led to Peters’ firing, and the murky details on the behavioral issues that forced out Montgomery. All sources who have reported on the Sharks’ coaching decision have reiterated that there were no other factors in play other than the performance of the team.