Golden Knights hire Peter DeBoer as head coach, fire Gerard Gallant

Josh Schrock

One of the most bitter rivalries in hockey just added a little more flavor.

The Vegas Golden Knights announced that coach Gerrard Gallant and assistant Mike Kelly have been relieved of their duties, and former Sharks coach Peter DeBoer has been named to the top spot.

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

"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."

DeBoer was fired by the Sharks on Dec. 12 after a rough start, leaving players shocked and stunned.

The move to fire Gallant comes amid a four-game losing streak for the Golden Knights that currently has them sitting on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. Gallant has coached the Golden Knights since the franchise's inaugural season, leading them to the Stanley Cup Final in their first season and winning the Jack Adams Award as NHL Coach of the Year. He is replaced by a man he once called a "clown."

The Sharks elected to let DeBoer go after the Sharks opened the season 15-16-2. The final straw was a four-game road trip that saw San Jose go 0-3-1, signaling to general manager Doug Wilson that it was time for a change in the locker room. 

In four-plus seasons leading the Sharks, DeBoer accumulated a 198-129-34 record while leading San Jose to four straight playoff appearances.

DeBoer goes from one side of the heated Western Conference rivalry to the other. The Sharks and Golden Knights have met in playoffs in each of the past two seasons. Vegas knocked off DeBoer's Sharks in the 2018 Western Conference second round, while San Jose won an epic seven-game first-round series last year. DeBoer getting the Golden Knights job adds another wrinkle into what has been a heated and contentious rivalry.

[RELATED: Sharks might be turning around bad season]

The Golden Knights currently are 24-19-6 and in a virtual tie with the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild-card spot.

Golden Knights hire Peter DeBoer as head coach, fire Gerard Gallant originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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