Knights fire Gallant, hire ex-SJ coach DeBoer

In an NHL season filled with shocking coaching changes, add another to the list: The Vegas Golden Knights have fired head coach Gerard Gallant and hired former San Jose coach Peter DeBoer, whom the Sharks fired last month.

The Knights also fired assistant Mike Kelly.

“In order for our team to reach its full potential, we determined a coaching change was necessary. Our team is capable of more than we have demonstrated this season,” Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon said in a statement.

“We would like to thank Gerard and Mike for their service to the Vegas Golden Knights. They were both instrumental to the success we have enjoyed in our first two-plus seasons and we wish them all the best moving forward.”

DeBoer has a career NHL coaching record of 415-329-111 with the Florida Panthers, New Jersey Devils and San Jose Sharks. He led the latter two teams to the Stanley Cup Final, but lost both times. He was fired by the Sharks when they had a 15-16-2 record on Dec. 11 despite high expectations entering the season. They’ve gone 6-7-2 since.

Ironically, DeBoer is hired by the Knights after eliminating them in a seven-game first-round series last year, in which the Sharks rallied from a 3-0 third-period deficit to in the final game eliminate the Knights.

“In Peter DeBoer, we have a proven, experienced head coach who we believe can help us achieve our ultimate goal. We are excited to welcome Peter and his family to the Vegas Golden Knights organization. We look forward to a strong finish to the 2019-20 season with Peter at the helm and a successful tenure in the seasons to come,” said McCrimmon.

Gallant has a 118-75-20 record to the Golden Knights, having led them to the Stanley Cup Final in the team’s inaugural season in 2017-18, the same year he won the Jack Adams as coach of the year. But the Knights have been underwhelming in the standings this season with a record of 24-19-6 in 49 games. Their .551 points percentage ranks them ninth in the conference.

Despite being around the top of the Pacific Division for most of this season, the Golden Knights have now lost four in a row and are tied with Winnipeg for the second wild card in the West.

But the team has also been one of the unluckiest in the NHL. They have the 24th-ranked shooting percentage at 7.5 percent. They’re first by a wide margin in expected goals at 5-on-5 — weighed for shot quality — at 106.93, but are only 12th in actual goals (98). Overall, the Knights are 17th in the NHL in goals per game (3.02) and they’re not getting great goaltending either, with a team save percentage of .900 (19th).

Gallant, 56, was hired by Vegas after a three-year stint with Florida. He also coached the Blue Jackets. He was just over a week away from coaching the Pacific Division team at the NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis.

Two of the last four Stanley Cup champions fired their coaches during the season they won it — the Blues last season and the Penguins in 2015-16.

Gallant is the seventh coach to be fired in the NHL this season after Mike Babcock in Toronto, Bill Peters in Calgary, John Hynes in New Jersey, Jim Montgomery in Dallas, Peter Laviolette in Nashville and DeBoer.

The Stars turned around and hired Hynes to replace Montgomery, who was fired for unprofessional conduct. Peters was fired after allegations of player abuse from his days in Carolina surfaced.

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