Peter DeBoer was introduced as the new coach of the San Jose Sharks on Thursday at a news conference.
The two main storylines were pretty simple going into this pre-arranged talking points media fest.
1. What did he think of this whole ‘no captain’ thing the Sharks did under mutually discharged Todd McLellan?
2. Did he agree with the refresh, rebuild, re-something that general manager Doug Wilson claims he started in San Jose.
DeBoer talked around the captaincy question quite a bit.
“The first thing I see when I look at the roster is a lot of leadership. That leadership goes way beyond whoever ends up with a ‘C’ on their jersey. It’s a deep leadership group. I’m looking forward to getting to know the group and the players. I think what I have going for me here is I’m fresh to this group. I don’t have a history with them. I wasn’t around for the successes or the failures, I’m looking forward to going in with a clean slate and getting to know this group and we’ll make those decisions as we go forward.”
Nice dodge Peter La Fleur. Done like a true former tri-state area coaching media veteran.
Also, he sure sounded like a coach in ‘win-now’ mode.
“I think if you enter the San Jose Sharks organization, the expectation is to win right now regardless of the ages or the birth certificates of the players. There’s a tradition here of winning and of challenging to go deep into the payoffs. That’s my expectation, that’s (general manager) Doug (Wilson's) expectation and I don’t think anyone’s looking for anything less than that here.”
So really, the Sharks aren’t in a rebuild (huh?) and DeBoer is going to wait to figure out the captaincy. Granted with the latter, what else was he going to say? Though it would have been really cool if he and say Joe Pavelski walked into the news conference together with a ‘C’ on Pavelski’s jersey. That would have been a total ‘drop the mic’ moment.
DeBoer’s puck possession numbers were decent with New Jersey, from where he was fired earlier in the year, and he made sure to state that he would bring a similar system to San Jose, which has historically been a good puck possession team.
“If you have the puck, the other team’s not scoring, so I believe the best defense is you have the puck and preferably in the offensive zone,” DeBoer said. “I believe in pressure hockey. The more pressure you can put on the team in all three zones, defensively in the neutral zone and in the offensive zone, the better off you’re going to be, I think players want to play that way and I think fans want to watch that type of hockey.”
General manager Doug Wilson, who introduced DeBoer, said he solicited advice from assistant coach Larry Robinson, and of all people, beloved former Shark and Ranger, Adam Graves. Just imagine if the Messier Award existed when Graves was still a player and Messier retired. We’re talking MULTIPLE wins.
Wilson called DeBoer one of the “brightest minds in hockey.”
Remember, this was a guy who did make a Stanley Cup Final. And he was one of the few Devils coaches to not get fired a few months into his tenure under former general manager Lou Lamoriello.
Wilson said DeBoer interviewed for the job seven years ago, when McLellan was offered the position. The Sharks were reportedly in the hunt for Mike Babcock who chased megabucks to Toronto.
The elephant in the room? Joe Thornton. DeBoer will probably need to smooth over relations with the former captain who is still a star player and puck possession monster. Publicly, Thornton’s relationship with both Wilson and McLellan diminished significantly this year.
Since he’s still … really good, and under contract for two more years, it would be wise to start work on that. Then again this was only Day 1 on the job.
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