As the Devils have sunk into mediocrity ever since the magical spring/summer of 2012, fans have started to become more and more vocal about desiring a coaching change. Their hopes may have been dashed for now; in an interview with Tom Gulitti of Fire and Ice, Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello stated that:
"The coach is coaching. He's here because you believe in what he's doing. If you didn't do that, he wouldn't be here. So, I think that answers the question."
So unless Lou is lying (and if we think he is, we need to start thinking of a new name for this website) it looks as though Peter DeBoer will be here for the rest of the season barring any unforeseen circumstances. To Devils fans who enjoy DeBoer, this will be seen as good news; to the rest, this just seems to be another step in the team sinking lower in lower in the NHL standings. Lamoriello would also be quoted by Gulitti as saying:
"That's something that's always behind your mind, but it can't be in the forefront. Right now, you have to do everything necessary to get the points. You can't worry about the points. Those take care of themselves. We've got to get our total game together to have success. To this point, we haven't had that."
Our general manager seems to be stating that it is on the players to find their game and collect more points, and that the coach is doing his job. However, isn't it the coach's job to help protect leads by picking the correct players to be on the ice to preserve leads? Isn't it the coach's job to ice the best 18 skaters every night to help whichever goaltender he has started? Doesn't the coach choose who shoots in a shootout? Aren't our coaches supposed to be responsible for choosing players best suited for the power play and penalty kill units?
All of these are questions that the fan base his raised about DeBoer, especially during this season when our special teams have struggled. I will take a look today at both sides of the argument in relation to Lamoriello's quotes.
To DeBoer's credit, he has shown when he has the proper personnel, he runs an excellent system; many of his proponents would argue that he hasn't had the aforementioned proper personnel since Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk, and yes even David Clarkson left town. While the Devils have signed stopgap, after stopgap, after stopgap to alleviate the bleeding, the fact is that the talent level just isn't the same as it was during the 2011-2012 season; in the very least, the talent doesn't fit Coach DeBoer's system the way that the departed players did.
The onus from Lou seems to be on the players; he states that the coach is coaching and that the team needs to find their total game. If the coach is doing his job, but the team is still not succeeding, then who else are we to blame but the players? We have had a number of underachievers so far this season (Travis Zajac, Patrik Elias, Andy Greene, and Dainius Zubrus come to mind immediately) as well as a number of injuries. The underachieving aides the DeBoer argument because he has talented players who aren't putting pucks in the net; the injuries also force the coach to essentially ice two fourth lines on a seemingly nightly basis, whcih does not help the team to succeed. While DeBoer isn't perfect, it can be argued that he could succeed if he had a young superstar or two like he used to.
A New Coach?
DeBoer's system at times has proven to be effective for New Jersey, but his detractors can argue that he drifting in the middle of the standings just isn't cutting it for a team as proud as ours has been for the past two decades. As Mike analyzed yesterday, New Jersey is one of the worst teams at protecting a lead, and while the players need to live up to their end of the bargain, the coach needs to put the correct players on the ice as I stated earlier. How many times have we seen the Devils get caught with players on the ice who have a hard time defending and/or moving the puck up ice?
From a viewing standpoint alone, fans seem to want more emotion from DeBoer; every time the team blows a lead he seems to stand behind the bench with a blank expression on his face. Quite different from the way some coaches have behaved on this team:
The lack of passion, the desire for (seemingly) commonsense with the nightly lineups, and the inability to maintain a lead seem to be the points as the top of the "Fire DeBoer" list.
Where Do You Stand?
As long as the team isn't performing up to expectations, there is going to be pressure on and criticism of all members of the organization. I'd like to know if you think that a coaching change will help to turn this team around. Is DeBoer the real problem? Is it the players? Does managements as a whole need to be changed? Leave any thoughts/comments below and as always, thank you for reading!