On Monday, the Vegas Golden Knights fired head coach Peter DeBoer. The decision was both a bit surprising, but also something we saw coming.
Despite having Stanley Cup expectations, the Golden Knights missed the playoffs for the first time in franchise history in 2022. They had over 500 man-games lost due to injury, but McCrimmon and co. felt as if it was time to shake things up in the room and give the VGK a new voice.
“We are in the results business. The decision is about next year. It is about starting with a fresh voice and a reenergized team. It is about a group of players with something to prove and that is the attitude we want to take into next season. This was part of that,” said McCrimmon on Monday.
McCrimmon made it clear in his press conference that the Golden Knights are just now beginning their search for a new head coach. The Golden Knights join the Winnipeg Jets and Chicago Blackhawks as teams currently without a head coach in the offseason.
“We haven’t put any work into who the candidates are yet. These are independent decisions that the offseason allows you to do… We are going to go through a process to hire the best possible candidate that we can hire and bring him in here to lead our team,” said McCrimmon.
With the vacancy of a bench boss, let’s review some potential names the Golden Knights could go after on the coaching market. This is part two of a series going over who could be the potential new head coach for the Golden Knights. Check out part one here where we looked at Barry Trotz, Rick Tocchet, and Deryk Engelland.
John Tortorella- A No-Nonsense Coach
I think the possibility of John Tortorella coaching in Vegas is either a nightmare waiting to happen or a match made in heaven. I cannot see anything in between the spectrum. Tortorella is a tenured, veteran NHL coach whose last appearance in the league was in 2020-21 with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Currently, Torts is serving as an insider with ESPN, similar to Rick Tocchet with TNT. Tortorella has coached the Blue Jackets, Tampa Bay Lightning, Vancouver Canucks, and New York Rangers. He won the 2004 Stanley Cup with the Lightning and has an all-time coaching record of 673 wins, 541 losses, 37 ties, and 132 overtime losses which is good for 14th all-time. He is also a two-time Jack Adams winner.
What makes Tortorella such an enigma is his character which is both a good and bad thing. Tortorella is no stranger to speaking his mind and being an outspoken personality. He is a no-nonsense old-fashioned type of coach who motivates the heck out of his players and shows no mercy.
The Golden Knights are coming off missing the playoffs which given the organization’s standards, is not acceptable. Tortorella would provide a fresh, loud, and clear voice that could put the train back on the tracks and get the team to screw their heads on straight.
VHN’s Take: If he were to be hired, Tortorella I could see him clashing with players like Jack Eichel, Robin Lehner, or William Karlsson (who he’s coached in the past) which could either turn them into better players or cause a rift in the organization. Again, I only see this potential coaching scenario as either a good move, or a disaster.
Paul Maurice- DeBoer’s Pal
There is nothing that really stands out to me with Paul Maurice. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing if the Golden Knights want a safe pick as a coach. Maurice is a longtime NHL head coach who has never really won anything in 24 years of coaching. The Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs, Hartford Whalers, and most recently the Winnipeg Jets have all been coached by Maurice.
In December of 2021, Maurice left the Jets organization after nine years with the team stating that the club “needed a new voice” and that he had “lost the passion for coaching.” This story puts a real red flag on Maurice as a coaching candidate as he is potentially nearing retirement.
But a position with the Golden Knights could revive his NHL coaching career. The 55-year-old is 7th all-time in NHL wins with a record of 775 wins, 681 losses, 99 ties, and 130 overtime losses. Laurent Brossoit has been coached by Maurice when they were both with the Winnipeg Jets.
VHN’s Take: I could see this happening. But with Maurice being longtime friends with Peter DeBoer, things may be a bit sour if he takes the job.
Joel Quenneville- Great Coach, Questionable Morality
Yeah, I debated on even including Joel Quenneville here after the fiasco that came out that caused him and the Florida Panthers to mutually part ways in October. Quenneville knew about the sexual assault instances within the Chicago Blackhawks organization when he coached there and did nothing.
Pushing aside this dirty laundry will not be easy if the Golden Knights chose him as their new head coach. There would be a myriad of people protesting the signing and trying to cancel the VGK. But this could be a fresh start, not only for the Golden Knights, but for Quenneville to rebuild his career.
There is no doubt that Quenneville is a great coach. He is 2nd all-time in NHL coaching wins, is a three-time Stanley Cup Champion, and a Jack Adams award winner. He coached Evgenii Dadonov in his time with the Panthers too. But the decision to hire him is a very risky one for the Golden Knights and the overall image of the franchise.
VHN’s Take: This is a bad idea and should not happen.