Gallant Knight fired as DeBoer named NHL Vegas coach

Vegas Golden Knights vs. Ottawa Senators Prediction, Preview, and Odds - 1-16-2020

The Vegas Golden Knights fired Gerard Gallant, their first-ever coach, on Wednesday and named former San Jose Sharks coach Peter DeBoer as his replacement.

DeBoer, who coached the Devils from 2011-12 until he was sacked in the middle of the 2014-15 season, was replaced in San Jose after the Sharks sat well outside the playoff picture in December in a season where the team had Stanley Cup aspirations.

General Manager Kelly McCrimmon spoke to the media about the move and what went into the first coaching change in franchise history.

But the Golden Knights lost four straight games to - at least temporarily - fall out of a playoff spot.

"As a manager, sometimes you have a feeling that something isn't the way you need it to be", McCrimmon said. However, McCrimmon believes that "our team is capable of more than we have demonstrated this season". We're in a unique position where we're right in the mix, so this isn't a case where the bottom fell out and we were left with no choice. "It was a situation where proactively it was our belief that this is what was going to be the best thing for our organization". Vegas also reached the postseason in 2018-19, losing in seven games to DeBoer's Sharks after blowing a 3-1 series lead.

Before some rough patches this season, Gallant was on a honeymoon since being hired in April 2017 to coach the league's 31st team. Meanwhile, the league's fourth-worst PDO (shooting percentage plus save percentage) has been a major factor in the club's underwhelming record.

A visibly emotional Nate Schmidt said he was caught off guard by the move.

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"Like a lot of teams we had high hopes for the year, still have high hopes for the year", McCrimmon said.

Former New Jersey Devils coaches haven't been out of work for long this season. Fleury stopped 22 of 25 shots in a 4-2 road loss to the Buffalo Sabres for his third consecutive loss in as many starts.

Assistant Coach Mike Kelly has also been relieved of his duties, while DeBoer will join up with the Knights on Thursday in Ottawa prior to their matchup against the Senators. "Just have to find ways to put the puck in the net, and we've kind of gotten stale last bunch of games".

Vegas now sits in the middle of the Pacific Division, 15 points ahead of the last-place Ducks. Gallant was set to coach the Pacific team at All-Star Weekend later this month after Vegas led the division at the halfway mark.

Things haven't gone well since then. DeBoer was sacked by the San Jose Sharks on December 11. DeBoer had previous stops with the Panthers and New Jersey Devils.

McCrimmon said that experience, coupled with the respect DeBoer earns from his players, were factors in bringing him to Vegas. He's a really respected coach in the industry ... he's an intelligent guy. He guided the Devils to the 2012 Stanley Cup Final, which they lost in six games to the Los Angeles Kings.

AP Hockey Writer John Wawrow in Buffalo and freelance writer W.G. Ramirez in Las Vegas contributed.

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