On Tuesday night Vegas coach Pete DeBoer became the 27th winningest coach in NHL history. The 15-year veteran coach clinched his 500th career win against the franchise he coached to the Stanley Cup finals in 2017. DeBoer admitted beating the San Jose Sharks for his milestone win was a little sweeter.
It did. I coached in San Jose for five years, went to a Stanley Cup final, got fired. It wasn’t a revenge thing. There’s a bunch of people on that other team that really contributed to that 500 number. It is a big number. 28 guys in the history game. When you start putting in that perspective it’s pretty special. –DeBoer with Jim Rome
The Golden Knights head coach jumped on the Jim Rome show to chat about his 500th victory and the diversity his club has faced this season. Rome asked DeBoer about the extended injuries Vegas has dealt with and the coach didn’t use that as an excuse for their latest rough patch.
We’ve dropped four or five of our last six in different ways. We hadn’t play poorly but we hadn’t put it altogether for 60 minutes. It was an important win for our team. We had been stumbling, spinning our wheels a little bit. We needed to get some momentum. We’ve got the two busiest months of the year coming up against some really tough teams. –DeBoer with Jim Rome
One reason why it’s difficult to hammer the Golden Knights’ latest stretch is the introduction of center Jack Eichel into the lineup. After a few injured teammates, Eichel has become the biggest offensive focus for opponents. DeBoer mentioned how vital the newest Golden Knight will be in the near and distant future.
He’s elite. There’s probably five guys in the world that have the tools that he has. He’s a center iceman which is critical to win a Stanley Cup. He’s a big guy, he skates, handles the puck, creates offense. He’s one of those game-changing type athletes that every franchise is looking for. Every night he’s gotten a little better, a little more comfortable. He’s going to be a big part of our what we’re doing here both this year and going forward. –DeBoer with Jim Rome
DeBoer is tied with eight-time Cup-winning coach Toe Blake for the 27th most wins in league history. In fact, 16 of the coaches in the 500 win or higher club are championship-winning coaches. Eichel could help add one more to that list. He may not hold a cup but DeBoer is 18th for most playoff wins as a coach. If all goes as planned he could pass former Cup-winning coaches, Claude Julien and Pat Burns. Or even back-to-back winning coach Jon Cooper, whom DeBoer lifted a few ideas from in the offseason.
We did change our neutral zone. We wanted to go to a different alignment where we may be creating some more turnovers, could be more aggressive through the neutral zone. Which feeds our rush game which is one of the things we excel at. There’s no secret to it. Tampa Bay uses that type of neutral zone. As coaches that’s what we all do best, we steal from the teams that have had success and try to incorporate some of those things in our own game. –DeBoer with Jim Rome
As the season shortens and the games become more important DeBoer understands what it’ll take for his team to be prepared for the postseason.
It’s a sprint to the playoffs for positioning and to get into the playoffs. You have to be playing good hockey in the last quarter of the season. You don’t just turn it on come playoff time and expect to win. There’s a heightened desperation for everybody out there and we’re no different. –DeBoer with Jim Rome
I’d recommend listening to the full interview. DeBoer has become a regular on Rome’s national program and tends to loosen up a bit. This time he rattled off an unexpected X-games phrase to help describe late-season competitive hockey.
It’s the best time of year for hockey, to coach, to play but also to come out to watch. It’s balls to the walls sort of speak.-DeBoer
Time to fire up the old SinBin tee shirt press, we might have a new motto for the rest of the season.
Also, Keegan Kolesar said this yesterday…
In months like this, you can either fall to the pits, or rise to the heavens. -Kolesar
So, we’ve got options.