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Shorter Shifts Are “Non-Negotiable”

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

With a new coach comes change.

I think every coach has some tweaks and some beliefs they want to instill. Coming in mid-season it’s going to be a little slower process and take some time. -Pete DeBoer

DeBoer has been tasked with taking over a team that knows it’s good but haven’t quite been able to sustain it consistently. The Golden Knights started out the season with two big wins against DeBoer’s Sharks, then dropped 15 of their next 24. Next, they hit a hot streak winning 13 of 19, but things quickly took a turn for the worse with Vegas losing four straight, costing Gerard Gallant his job.

Now, DeBoer is in charge and he has to figure out how much needs to be changed and where he needs to implement those changes.

From a systems point of view, there will be some tweaks but this is a well-coached team, I’m not coming in here to change everything. -DeBoer

Those tweaks will come eventually, but don’t expect to see them in the next three games.

We’ve got to take it a little bit slower for me. These games until the break I’m going to use to get to know the guys and the team. The players, I want them to play, show me what you can do, what you are capable of, and hopefully coming out of the break we can start to establish some of those things. -DeBoer

However, DeBoer did outline a few things he says he won’t wait for, those he calls, “non-negotiables.”

I was a coach have some non-negotiable things we’re going to stress and that’s attacking and playing north, stopping and defending hard, tracking back, keeping our shifts short, playing four lines. Those are the non-negotiable items for me that we’re going to try and instill right away. -DeBoer

For the most part, it’s all standard coach speak and things the Golden Knights were already doing with Gallant. But, there’s one “item” among the non-negotiables that will require a change from Vegas’ players.

“Keeping our shifts short.”

The average shift length of all players in the NHL is 45.5 seconds. 47.1 seconds for defensemen and 44.6 seconds for forwards. (as of 1/21/20)

Under Gallant Golden Knights came in way above the averages, while DeBoer’s Sharks teams have been below.

Team ATOI49.244.945.5
Forwards ATOI49.144.044.6
Defensemen ATOI49.546.847.1

Vegas’ shifts are on average over five seconds longer than San Jose’s and four seconds longer than the league. The difference mostly comes down to forwards, where the Golden Knights 49.1 seconds per shift. While Gallant was at the helm, that was tied with Washington for the highest in the league. (Games through 1/14/20)

Forwards ATOI
New Jersey47.0
St. Louis45.3
New York Islanders45.1
Tampa Bay44.5
Los Angeles44.1
New York Rangers44.0
San Jose43.8

This isn’t a new phenomenon for the Golden Knights either. The average shift length for all skaters in franchise history under Gallant was 49.3 seconds.

Team ATOI48.250.649.249.3
Forward ATOI48.250.949.149.4
Defensemen ATOI48.250.049.549.2

As you can see, Golden Knights forwards actually have a longer average shift time than defensemen over the 213 games with Gallant.

Under DeBoer, Sharks skaters averaged 44.2 seconds per shift, with forwards clocking in at 42.5 and defensemen at 47.7.

We’re talking about five to seven seconds, but that’s a huge difference when looking at shift length. It means Gallant’s player’s shifts are about 10% longer than DeBoer’s which translates to two to three more shifts per game.

The Golden Knights will certainly have to make an adjustment to fulfill this “non-negotiable” item and the impact it has will likely go a long way in determining how successful the Golden Knights are under new direction.

UPDATE (1/21/20)

Through three games, DeBoer’s philosophy seems to be getting through to the Golden Knights.

GallantDeBoer (VGK)Difference
Team ATOI49.245.83.4
Forwards ATOI49.145.04.1
Defensemen ATOI49.547.71.8

Also, in the three games, 38 of the 54 skaters have come in under their season average with another three matching their average.


Hockey World Weighs In On Vegas’ Shocking Coaching Change




  1. John G

    And this is a very important stat. shift length correlates to goals given up late in a shift by tired players, and also causes poor, lazy line changes.

    This is a major flaw for the VGK, and Gallant is responsible for it. good research.

  2. Carl

    This all feels like being stuck in a different universe!

  3. Vgk4life

    Piss poor defensemen picked by the same GMs who hired Deboer is the cause. Deboer who previously failed at a team with better paid players, healthier players, and a deeper roster.

    Bravo Knights GMs this is going to be a shit show.

    • “…failed at a team with better paid players, healthier players and a deeper roster.”

      Ummm… Which alternative reality have you been living in?

  4. DOC Williams

    OK, how about we stop the f*cking criticism and get behind our team. Christ, grow up people! This is how profession sports work. Coaches get fired all the time, right or wrong. Lets give the team & DeBoer a CHANCE!!

  5. Tim

    Like everyone I was shocked at the Pete DeBoer hire. I wasn’t surprised Gallant got fired as much as the team respected him they didn’t show up on the ice. This is our team so all we can do is get behind it. George and Kelly assembled a great team from the start but after that their have been some head scratching moves. Not shoring up the D has been a problem from the start and it’s cost us games and you can’t blame Gallant for that. Picking up Chandler Stephenson for a 5th round in 2021 was a steal I’d do that kind of deal all day long. We draft kids and most don’t work out so picking up a 25 year old with NHL experience and can skate might be the way to go in the future. We have a cap problem how they can overcome that remains to be seen but we need two quality D-Men to make a run at the cup.

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