On Monday, the Vegas Golden Knights fired head coach Peter DeBoer. The decision was a bit surprising and 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 three 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, and part two here, where we looked at John Tortorella, Paul Maurice, and Joel Quenneville.
Rick Bowness- Fresh On The Market
On Friday, the Dallas Stars announced that Rick Bowness would be leaving the organization after three seasons with the club. The Stars, who beat the Golden Knights for the second Wild Card position in the Western Conference, lost to the Calgary Flames in seven games in the first round.
In December of 2019, Bowness took over as head coach after the firing of Jim Montgomery and took the Stars (featuring Mattias Janmark) to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final, where they eventually lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Bowness’ two-year contract extension he signed after that season has now expired.
A longtime head coach, Bowness has been coaching in the NHL since the late 80s. He has coached both Raymond Bourque and Jason Robertson. He holds the record for the most games coached in the NHL as an assistant or head coach with 2,562.
Bowness has coached in the Jets, Bruins, Senators, Islanders, Coyotes, Stars Canucks, and Lightning organizations. His all-time coaching record with a multitude of different teams is that of 212-351-48 (ties)-28 (OTL). If Bowness is available, he could be an under-the-radar name the Golden Knights look at.
VHN’s Take: Bowness is not the flashiest name on the list but could be a viable option for the Golden Knights, who just overall need a change of pace and a new voice in the locker room.
Despite being a veteran NHL head coach on the market, there has not been much discussion over former Philadelphia Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault. The only peep I have heard about Vigneault’s coaching future came on an episode of the 32 Thoughts Podcast, where Elliotte Friedman suggested that he could be a fit for the Winnipeg Jets.
“I am curious to see if he wants to coach again because it ended obviously very badly in Philadelphia, and I’ve heard at times this year that Vigneault would like another chance to prove that wasn’t all on him,” said Freidman.
Vigneault most recently coached the Flyers in 2021-22 and was canned after just 22 games. The Flyers had one of their worst seasons in franchise history in 21-22. Like DeBoer, Vigneault has made it to the Stanley Cup Finals twice in his career but has gone 0-2 with the 2011 Vancouver Canucks and 2014 New York Rangers. The only current Golden Knight he has coached in the past is Nolan Patrick.
In 19 seasons as an NHL head coach Vigneault has coached the Canadiens, Canucks, Rangers, and Flyers. He is 8th all-time in wins as a head coach in the NHL with a 722-489-35 (ties)-117 (OTL) record. In 2006-2007 he won the Jack Adams award as the top head coach in the NHL.
VHN’s Take: I think Vigneault’s rough departure from the Flyers organization has left a lot of teams skeptical about his coaching abilities. This could scare the Golden Knights off as an interested party.
Another journeyman NHL coach with tons of experience being overlooked is Claude Julien. Similar to Vigneault, Julien coached a struggling team, most recently with the Montreal Canadiens in 2020-21. He was fired midway through the season, and Dominique Ducharme took over and got the Habs to the 2021 Stanley Cup Finals.
Julien is a big-time head coach who has mostly coached strong playoff-contending teams. He won the 2011 Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins and is 16th all-time in NHL head coaching wins. Max Pacioretty and Reilly Smith, two core members of the Golden Knights team, have been coached by Julien before.
He is also coaching Nicolas Roy, Zach Whitecloud, and Logan Thompson currently at Worlds.
Barry Trotz is the hot new item on the NHL coaching “free agency” board, and rightfully so. But Julien is in the same category as a Stanley-Cup winning veteran NHL coach currently without a job.
VHN’s Take: Don’t be surprised if the Golden Knights reach out to Julien for an interview.