5. Peter DeBoer 2014
It was the day after Christmas in the 2014-15 season, and Lou Lamoriello was trying to find the magic that sent the Devils to the 2012 Stanley Cup Final. However, the Devils were struggling to survive after Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk left to “go home”. Peter DeBoer’s system wasn’t working as well without the top-line scoring, and the forecheck wasn’t causing as many chances every shift. On top of that, the Devils were wasting a Vezina-like performance from Cory Schneider. Lamoriello was trying to make a desperation move for the second half of the year when he let go of DeBoer with a 12-17-7 record.
It wasn’t a surprise that Lou fired DeBoer on the surface. What was a surprise is what he did next. Lamoriello didn’t name an ole reliable coach to come in and be the interim. Instead, he hired himself (of course), Scott Stevens, and Adam Oates to be some sort of triumvirate on the bench. What’s better than one interim coach? Three interim coaches we suppose.
It didn’t really lead to much more than mediocre hockey for the rest of the season. The Devils finished the season 32-36-14, so on a slightly better pace than they were under DeBoer. You have to go all the way back to 1989 to find a (non-lockout shortened) season with fewer points than the 78 they scored that season. The roster just didn’t work, and it was the next offseason when ownership brought in Ray Shero and Lamoriello eventually left for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
This wasn’t a shocking firing, per se. It was the aftermath of the firing that has it on the list. Most thought DeBoer’s time had come, but replacing a coach with three was a strange decision to say the least.