This may come as a shock to the readers of this site, but I’m going to say it anyway. Pete DeBoer used to be the coach of the Golden Knights and now he’s on the other bench coaching VGK’s opponent in the Western Conference Final.
I know, bet you didn’t even realize it until just right now.
But seriously, all joking aside, the familiarity of DeBoer and the majority of the current Golden Knights roster will play a significant role in this series.
I think it’ll help them a lot because he does know certain tendencies of the players and he can point out things that they may be able to do. I was in Boston six years, if we play them tomorrow I certainly know some of what you don’t see on film about the individuals. He’ll help their defensemen against or forwards or their forwards forechecking our D. -Bruce Cassidy
The familiarity goes both ways though as DeBoer is not the only one who has spent time coaching the other side. Golden Knights’ assistant coach, John Stevens, who runs the defense for Vegas, spent each of the last three seasons behind the bench in Dallas running their D.
Five of the seven regular defensemen played under Stevens including the most important trio of Miro Heiskanen, Ryan Suter, and Esa Lindell.
In addition to Stevens’, Cassidy believes the other two holdover assistants will be of help to the Golden Knights as well. Both Ryan Craig and Misha Donskov were assistant coaches running DeBoer’s system in Vegas.
We had our meeting this morning and I just put up my feet up relaxing because they have all the information and it’s just up to me to decide what to do with it in a couple days. -Cassidy
From systems to individuals, the awareness of what’s happening on the other bench is going to be at an all time high. Vegas’ players keenly understand exactly what the Stars are trying to do in all three zones and should have good enough memories about what is necessary to cause tactical problems. Meanwhile, DeBoer knows the strengths and weaknesses of every significant player on the roster and should be able to help guide his current team into exploiting them.
There will be more information available early in this series. There’s a little more knowledge this series, internal knowledge, and we’ll see how that plays out. -Cassidy
On top of information and knowledge, the familiarity also brings a bit more motivation.
There’s no doubt it means a little more obviously to me and that would be for anybody in this situation. I think the important thing for me here is the hockey and the focus on the players though. -Pete DeBoer
Meanwhile after DeBoer’s dismissal, there were some murmurs from players that the DeBoer system had become too regimented and there needed to be more freedom to make plays. Vegas will want to prove to themselves and to their former coach that they were right by finding holes in the system they were chained to the last two and a half seasons.
One side will win, one side will lose, and oddly enough, each probably already know exactly how it’s going to happen.