The Devils have officially named former Florida Panthers head coach per Rich Chere and Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos. Deboer was 103-107-36 in 246 games as the Head Coach of the Florida Panthers.
More to come.
Thoughts on the signing: I'm personally disappointed that it isn't Guy Carbonneau, but I do not have a lot of problems with this. You look at some of the players that DeBoer has had over the years, and you'll probably understand why his teams struggled, mainly because the team didn't really have much talent. Luck hasn't been on his side either- he missed out on the playoffs in 2009 on a technicality, and in 2010 he lost 30 goal scorer David Booth to injury. Last year his team wasn't all that great, David Booth wasn't nearly as effective, and the team lost Nathan Horton to trade. Thanks to an end of the year fire sale by Dale Tallon, the team was left with prospects/AHLers on the team (remember Hugh Jessiman dressing for a game?) and they plummeted to a 3rd place finish. However, the fact that DeBoer managed to stay only 4 games below 500 despite two terrible seasons by the Panthers shows he's a good coach.
One excellent aspect about DeBoer is that he's good with youngsters. Dmitry Kulikov might not be where he is right now if it wasn't for DeBoer. The same goes for guys like Mike Weaver, Mike Santiorelli and Jason Garrison. The Devils have a lot of young players on the team next season- Jacob Josefson, Mark Fayne, Nick Palmieri and Mattias Tedenby. Considering the Devils also have the likes of Alex Urbom, Adam Larsson and Adam Henrique in the wings, having DeBoer around should help those guys develop into mature NHL players.
As for the NHL players on the team, DeBoer has managed to do his best with the limited talent available. He almost made the playoffs with Jay Bouwmeester and Nathan Horton still part of the team. Once the Panthers started to lose talent (Bouwmeester to
free agency trade, Horton to trade, Booth to injury), the team suffered simply because of the lack of depth and talent available. The Devils have a lot of talent on the team. Travis Zajac, Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias are all massive upgrades from Stephen Weiss, David Booth, Mike Santiorelli and Marty Reasoner, who were amongst the Panther's top forwards last season. The Devils are a better team than the Panthers were last season, which was proven by their record under Lemaire.
My final thought on DeBoer has to do with his dismissal from the Panthers. DeBoer was let go mainly because of the culture change Dale Tallon wanted to bring in. This is not a knock against DeBoer, but Tallon has a different philosophy on how his teams should be built. Maybe Tallon felt Dineen could bring more to the table in terms of offensive prowess, which Tallon likes, considering his cup team in Chicago he built was based heavily on offense. Considering the recent draft picks of Nick Bjugstad, Quinton Howden, Rocco Grimaldi and their top pick in 2011 Jon Huberdeau, Tallon's looking to build a team that's much more offensively sound than defensively sound. DeBoer's release from Florida had less to do with his job there, but rather the architect's blueprint.
Update 2: I asked Chris Roberts from Litter Box Cats to send me some of his thoughts on DeBoer, seeing as he's seen much more of him than we have. Here's what he had to say about DeBoer.
Peter DeBoer joined the Panthers in 08-09 and immediately impressed by coaching the team to a 41-30-11 record, which ultimately left the team in 9th place. During this year, DeBoer coached his players to crash the net and win battles at all cost, as well as finding effective line combos that resulted in numerous highlight reel goals. DeBoer made the Panthers look very good.After his initial success, DeBoer began to show some of the qualities that Panthers fans cringed at during the next two seasons, including his willingness to bench young players and call-ups after making mistakes, shorting players on minutes and a general passiveness when decisions needed to be made. DeBoer's coaching style seemed to switch to a more skill-oriented, fancy-smancy passing scheme (ala Detroit Red Wings) that simply didn't fit with the team he was given. Like most coaches who get canned, he tried to unsuccessfully force his playing style on a team that didn't work that way. This resulted in few goals, a horrendous powerplay, a lack of physicality and a lot of dump-and-chase.
Keep in mind, outside of his rookie year with the Panthers, DeBoer didn't have much raw talent to work with. Peter never really had a sense of stability, either, as he had a different GM in each season with Florida. Dale Tallon may have not fired DeBoer because he was a bad coach, but rather because both parties desperately needed a change in scenery. New Jersey has a lot of pieces this year the Florida didn't have while Peter was coaching, so I think it's a reasonable prediction he will return to his winning ways in New Jersey.
News update: Tom Gulliti tweets that the future of the assistant coaches (Larry Robinson and Adam Oates) are uncertain at the moment- which hints that there might be more changes regarding the assistant coaches.