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DeBoer talks joining Stars, Pavelski as coach in Q&A with

Peter DeBoer is ready to get going again.

The 54-year-old was hired as Dallas Stars coach to replace Rick Bowness, who resigned on May 20 after three seasons. It was a quick turnaround for DeBoer, who was fired by the Vegas Golden Knights on May 16. Vegas finished 43-31-8, three points behind the Nashville Predators for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. The Golden Knights were 98-50-12 under DeBoer, advancing to the playoffs in his first two seasons before not qualifying last season.

The Stars (46-30-6) were the first wild card into the playoffs from the West last season and lost in the first round to the Calgary Flames in seven games after advancing to the Stanley Cup Final in 2020, when they lost the best. -of-7 series to the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games.

“Any time you get fired, it sets you back a little bit,” DeBoer said Monday. “And this one in particular I think was probably the toughest one I’ve been through, just because of the circumstances. Having said that, when [Dallas general manager] Jim Nill called, it didn’t take long for me to get the juices flowing again and the excitement to build, particularly when he started talking about the group, both the players there but also some of the young guys coming.”

DeBoer has experienced success as an NHL coach in multiple locations; he is 513-379-123 in 14 NHL seasons with the Golden Knights, San Jose Sharks, New Jersey Devils and Florida Panthers. He’s 68-55 in the playoffs, leading the Devils to the Cup Final in 2012, when they lost to the Los Angeles Kings in six games, and the Sharks to the Cup Final in 2016, when they lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games. . caught up with DeBoer and discussed several topics, including his time with the Golden Knights, coaching Joe Pavelski again and working with the Stars lineup.

You mentioned how things ended with Vegas. How difficult was last season?

It was really frustrating, because we obviously knew the potential of the group. We were obviously excited about the potential of the group. The previous year, we had played Colorado for the Presidents’ Trophy late in the season and then beat them out in the playoffs in the second round, went to the conference final. There was a lot of excitement, anticipation about the year, and I can’t describe it any other way than it was just a train wreck of injuries and setbacks. I was proud of our staff and the players that were available to us, with how they battled and competed and grinded. We still ended up with 94 points, which I thought was an accomplishment, considering the circumstances. Obviously other people didn’t feel that.”

You worked with Joe Pavelski when you coached the Sharks. How much are you looking forward to being reunited with him?

“One of my favorite people and players that I’ve coached. I think when we both left San Jose, I assumed I would get an opportunity to work with him again, (it) just probably wasn’t going to happen. The same with Joe Thornton, the same with Brent Burns, I loved all those guys. It’s funny how the hockey world works. I never saw this coming, but I’m really, really excited. He makes my job as a coach so much easier because of his leadership, because of the way he prepares and plays and practices and because of the respect he has in the room.”

Watching that top line of Pavelski, Jason Robertson and Roope Hintz Last year, how much of that was Joe’s hockey IQ and the skill and speed of the other two combined?

“They really had something special going on. My history with lines, with chemistry, that’s hard to replicate. You don’t want to underestimate chemistry like that when you’ve got it.

“At the same time, the challenge for us in Dallas is to become more than a one-line team, which is what I think a lot of people on the outside considered them last year. So, I think we’re going to look at everything. We have some new players, obviously I’m excited about Mason Marchment Signing, I’m excited about Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin after talking with them, I’m excited about the young guys we’re going to be able to fuse in. We’ll come up with combinations that work there, but we’re going to have a lot of options.”

The big change for Dallas is John Klingberg‘s departure. This still appears to be a pretty strong group of defensemen, but what do you see with them this season?

“Well, I think the defense is probably going to be the biggest learning curve for me. I know Miro HeiskanenI know Ryan SuterI know Esa Lindellbut the rest of the group is going to be either guys that are relatively new to the Dallas Stars, or young guys that are going to be given an opportunity or free-agent signings like we had out of Buffalo in free agency with Colin [Miller]. When I look at the Dallas Stars, over the last five or six years of coaching against them, I think you would probably say their strengths lie in their defense and the veterans they had on their defense. I think this year, there’s a little bit of a movement away from that. We’re using some young guys and some new guys.”

Heiskanen is 23 years old. Robertson is 23 and has had two good seasons. What are your thoughts on the evolution of some of these young players?

“There’s two waves of younger guys in Dallas in my mind. There are kind of the established younger guys, Jake Oettinger, Heiskanen, Roope Hintz, Robertson, an excellent group of young players. Then there’s the secondary group coming that’s knocking on the door and that includes draft picks from the previous few drafts, including Ty Dellandrea but also Wyatt Johnston, [Logan] Stankoven, Mavrik Bourque and also Thomas Harley on defense. There’s a whole other group that everybody’s excited about, knocking on the door.

“I think the nice thing for me, the exciting part for me as a coach is the two times I’ve been to the Stanley Cup Final, we had teams that had a really nice blend of veteran presence and leadership, but also a young infusion of players coming in. In New Jersey, we had the veterans (such as) Zach Parise and [Ilya] Kovalchuk and Bryce Salvador, but we also had young guys like that Adam Larsson coming in In San Jose, it was the same with Joe Thornton and Pavelski and that group, but also another young group coming in. At that time, it was [Tomas] Hertl and that group of players. I’m excited about the blend and the ability to work with that group.”

We always talk about players learning as their careers continue. What have you learned as your coaching career has gone on?

“I think not to waste energy on things you can’t control is an important lesson at the NHL level. A coach can’t control injuries, can’t control the salary cap, can’t control things like that. It’s a waste of time and resources when you spend too much time on things like that. So, I think you learn that, you learn that the hard way over the years of coaching.

“You have to adapt at this level. The League changes, it has subtle changes in style of play every year that you have to keep up with, so there’s really no down time. You always have to be looking to see what the best teams are. doing and try to incorporate that for the following season. And I think the last thing is to try and enjoy the ride. It’s the best league in the world with the best athletes in the world and the best cities in the world. As a young coach, you’re just trying to survive. You get a little better perspective when you’re heading into your 15th year. You try and enjoy it a little bit more.”

Who influenced you the most as a coach?

“I had great mentors growing up. The captain of my junior team was Paul Maurice, and he was a coach as a 19-year-old already. He was just born for it, so I got to be around a guy like that early. in my junior playing career. And our junior coach at the time was a lifelong coach in Tom Webster, who was an NHL player, NHL coach for the Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers. He was probably the one guy who I would say, and Paul Maurice could say too, that we both looked at it and said, ‘Wow, that’s a pretty good thing to do every day and get paid to do it.’ Just the way he handled it.

“This probably, considering the environment, isn’t politically correct, but the most impactful part on my coaching career was my experience with Hockey Canada, getting to coach national teams all the way up, starting Under-18, World Juniors, World Championships , because you got to work with all the best coaches in the world. You got to work with Mike Babcock and Ken Hitchcock, Dave King and Tom Renney. From a professional development point of view, that allowed me to get better every year, my experiences with those teams.”