It has been reported by several outlets in the past day that the Dallas Stars are expected to hire Pete DeBoer as their next head coach.
Hearing that Peter DeBoer will be the next head coach of the Dallas Stars.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) June 20, 2022
It’s not quite done yet, and something could still happen to keep DeBoer’s hiring from becoming official. However, it seems that this is the direction things are trending for the Stars.
There are some questions that hopefully will be answered when (if) this hire comes to fruition and becomes final.
Is DeBoer’s hiring a byproduct of general manager Jim Nill’s contract status?
Nill is about to enter the last year of his contract with the Stars as general manager. There will be some that believe that DeBoer is the only coach that would come to Dallas given that Nill could easily be gone in just the second year of his stint. As has been proven time and again, a new general manager often wants to hire their own coach in order to put their mark on the team they are steering.
That’s a lot of uncertainty for someone without NHL experience to handle, and it could have been a factor for some as to whether they decided to take an interview with the organization or not. I think it is more likely that Nill will receive a contract extension that aligns with the contract length of his new coaching hire in order to eliminate this uncertainty. Therefore, I don’t put a lot of weight into this impacting the candidates Dallas may have considered and spoken with as part of their vetting process.
Will DeBoer instill a different style of play into the Dallas Stars?
Historically, DeBoer’s teams have generated good shot differentials and suppressed high danger chances against. In other words, it feels like we’ll see a slightly more offensive style than the Rick Bowness era but perhaps not the trailblazing uptempo offensive bonanza preferred by some fans.
Consider this from The Athletic:
“I’ve heard DeBoer’s system and style of coaching described as more rigid than most. Its structure has led to vastly improved breakouts from the defensive zone, and better passing through the neutral zone since he took over in Vegas. It’s also a major reason the Golden Knights allowed the fewest goals in the league a season ago. But it could also be stifling the players’ creativity in the offensive zone.”
That...sounds a lot like what Rick Bowness had instilled in Dallas already.
DeBoer often sets his structure to have offense go through his blueliners. That means getting clean, structured exits out of their own zone and pushing play up ice. The success of that system is predicated on having the personnel to instill that type of structure. Outside of Miro Heiskanen, who should see his offense uptick under this philosophy, it’s hard to see who the puckmovers are that will make the offense happen as the roster is currently predicted to be constructed.
In his first season as head coach of the Vegas Golden Knights, DeBoer had the team play a simple, fast style of play that placed a lot of pressure on the opposing team. As the seasons clicked by and injuries occurred, DeBoer changed their style to a 1-1-3 forecheck that made the Gold Knights a more passive team. That led to fewer power play opportunities and a system that is easier to break down by the opposition. DeBoer struggled to make in-game adjustments when the opponent broke down his system, and that’s something that Bowness was also criticized for during his tenure here.
Could that be because of personnel? Are the adjustments DeBoer makes to his system actually designed to try to get the most of the talent at his disposal, or will his system be the square hole every peg has to find their way to exist within?
Why didn’t the Stars go after the unknown?
The biggest question Stars fans may never have answered is why the team went with a recycled NHL coach, and not someone new or different that could bring unique ideas to the team. We’ll likely never know who the Stars seriously considered in their process, or if any actual discussion occurred that would have opened the door to someone different (like, say, a European coach or a major junior team coach.)
The NHL is a results-driven business. The success of the team is often based on making the playoffs, not in winning the offseason. DeBoer does bring a history of success to the table, with his many playoff appearances with the San Jose Sharks and Vegas. Maybe that was the ultimate desire of Nill and Stars ownership for their next coaching hire.
We’ll have to see if that plays out in their favor.