Why Pete DeBoer Should be NHL Coach of the Year
Since his New Jersey Devils team failed to make the playoffs, it’s likely head coach Pete DeBoer won’t win the Jack Adams Award for the NHL’s Head Coach of the Year, but I believe that he should.
I’ve written (perhaps ad nauseam) about how the Devils were hurt by the lack of a true goal scorer after Ilya Kovalchuck’s departure, but the other half of that equation is the team’s players dealing with the fact that one of their friends and teammates ditched them to go to Russia. When everyone got together for pre-season and training camp, it was DeBoer who kept everyone in line and focused on playing hockey with who they had, not who they lost.
DeBoer also had to deal with the important issue of having to split time between Martin Brodeur and Cory Schneider. He had to find a way to appease the greatest Devils player ever and the guy they brought in to replace him which cost them the ninth overall pick in last year’s draft; he couldn’t crush Brodeur’s ego, but he needed to bolster Schneider’s. In the end, DeBoer did a masterful job of splitting their time almost down the middle (Schneider started 43 games and Brodeur started 39), and there were never really rumors of any problems in the locker room between the two. They worked together well, and Brodeur was given a dignified opportunity to go out a winner at the end of the season.
Last, but not least, DeBoer did a great job with what he had in getting the Devils as close to a playoff spot as they actually came. Though ultimately falling short, the team never gave up, despite some really tough obstacles. When the Devils went through the stretch of giving up tying goals in the last minute of the game, when they went through tough spells where they couldn’t score —and couldn’t keep a goal out of the net— DeBoer kept them focused on the next game and the next day without getting caught up in what happened before.
All of this may not be enough to get him the Jack Adams Award, but he should certainly be considered because he kept the Devils alive and in the hunt when it didn’t look like it would be possible this season.
When it comes to deserved accolades, DeBoer was honored by being selected as an assistant coach for Team Canada for the 2014 IIHF World Championship. This is a big honor, and I extend my congratulations to him for the tribute.