With the Vegas Golden Knights now being officially eliminated from the playoff race, several questions are being discussed as to what changes this organization may make prior to the 2022-23 season. In order to be cap compliant, there will be some players that are shipped out, and some like Reilly Smith who will more than likely be gone via free agency. Perhaps the biggest question of all for the team is Pete DeBoer’s future and whether or not the head coach will be back behind the bench next season.
Golden Knights fans never seemed to take too kindly to DeBoer, who replaced Gerard Gallant, a coach beloved by this fanbase, during the 2019-20 season. Under DeBoer, this team has had some success, advancing to the Conference Final in each of the past two years. However, with the team’s struggles this season, there has been some controversy surrounding DeBoer, particularly when it comes to his relationship with goaltender Robin Lehner.
Entering the season, it seemed DeBoer was a big fan of Lehner, as he seemed to prefer starting him over Marc-Andre Fleury when health permitted. However, with Lehner’s struggles this season, DeBoer called him out several times as of late, despite the fact he was playing with an injury. There have been rumblings that the Swedish netminder hasn’t been happy with the way he has been treated, meaning the organization may be forced to pick between one or the other for next season.
To DeBoer’s credit, he wasn’t blaming anybody after being eliminated from postseason contention by the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night. Instead, he stepped up and said that he is just as responsible, if not more so, than any players on the roster.
“I’m at the front of the line for responsibility,” DeBoer said. “There was a lot of expectations on this team. It’s not an easy thing and it doesn’t feel good for anybody right now.”
Despite the Golden Knights’ fanbase’s overall perspective of their coach and Pete DeBoer’s uncertain future, he is a good coach, and has a very lengthy track record at the NHL level to prove so. By no means was he perfect this season, but there were plenty of uncontrollable circumstances that played a big part in this team missing the playoffs. With that being said, there is usually a fall guy when a team disappoints like his did, and he may very well pay the price for it.
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