Detroit Red Wings coaching candidates: Add Peter DeBoer, subtract Lane Lambert

Detroit Free Press

Peter DeBoer emerged as an option for the Detroit Red Wings as they search for a new coach, the same day Lane Lambert no longer was a viable option.

A week after firing Barry Trotz (add him to the list of options for general manager Steve Yzerman), the New York Islanders promoted Lambert, a former Yzerman teammate, from associate to head coach. That came at the same time the Golden Knights jettisoned DeBoer, who has extensive ties to the Detroit area.

The Wings are looking for their first new coach in seven seasons after Yzerman declined to renew Blashill’s contract April 30, the day after the season ended. 

HELP WANTED: What Yzerman is looking for in new coach of Red Wings

DeBoer coached the Knights to a 43-31-8 record, but they missed the playoffs. The Knights were 98-50-12 in three seasons under DeBoer, who was hired to replace Gerard Gallant on Jan 15, 2020.

“We would like to thank Pete DeBoer for his commitment to the Vegas Golden Knights over the past three seasons,” Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon said. “Since joining the organization, Pete and his staff have guided us through some of the most unique and challenging circumstances we’ve witnessed since our franchise entered the NHL. After lengthy discussions over the last two weeks, we believe that a new coach will put us in the best position to succeed next season.”

The Knights were DeBoer’s fourth NHL head coaching gig. He’s 513-379-123 in 14 seasons with the Knights, San Jose Sharks, New Jersey Devils and and Florida Panthers. He coached the Devils to the 2012 Stanley Cup Final, losing in six games to the Los Angeles Kings, and coached San Jose to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final, losing in six games to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

WHAT HAPPENED: Steve Yzerman: Red Wings ‘regressed’ under Jeff Blashill

DeBoer, who turns 54 in June, earned his coaching credentials in metro Detroit. He started as an assistant coach with the Detroit Jr. Red Wings in 1993 and was named head coach in 1995, when the team became known as the Detroit Whalers. In 1997, the team was renamed the Plymouth Whalers. In 1998–99, DeBoer led the Whalers to an Ontario Hockey League-leading 106 points, earning OHL Coach of the Year honors. DeBoer coached the Whalers until 2001, when he left to be GM/coach of the rival Kitchener Rangers.

DeBoer jumped to the NHL in 2008, when he was hired to coach the Panthers.

Yzerman is looking to make his first hire to coach the Wings. Speaking May 2, Yzerman said the team needed a new voice.

“There are areas of the game we need to improve upon,” Yzerman said. “I’m hoping a new coach, a new voice, a different approach, maybe a different way of doing things, we can improve our team play and the play of our players individually. We are not going to get rid of every single player here. We have some very good players but they have to improve in a lot of different areas.”

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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