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Devils name Stevens, Oates to replace DeBoer

by Staff Writer / New Jersey Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils will go with an unconventional coaching structure for the remainder of the 2014-15 season, naming Adam Oates and Scott Stevens as co-coaches to replace the fired Pete DeBoer.

President and general manager Lou Lamoriello, who will go behind the bench in a supervisory role with Stevens and Oates on an interim basis, made the announcement Saturday morning, less than 24 hours after firing DeBoer.

"It's certainly been a very interesting last 48 hours," Lamoriello said. "The decision was made to go forward. I tried to come up with, in my opinion, what was the best way to get our team to do certain things and get the most out of personnel we have."

The Devils play the New York Rangers on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

Lamoriello admitted it was a unique situation to have two men in charge of the bench. He also said it would be for a short period of time. Lamoriello said he intends to have one full-time coach for next season. He said it could be Oates, Stevens or an outside candidate.

Stevens, a Hall of Fame defenseman who won three Stanley Cups as Devils captain, will oversee the defense. Oates will oversee the forwards. Oates coached the Washington Capitals from 2012-2014. Stevens has no experience as the head coach, but served as an assistant coach under DeBoer before stepping away this past season.

Lamoriello will serve on the bench to get a read on the team and its personality before ceding control of the bench to Stevens and Oates at a yet-to-be-determined time. Tommy Albelin and Mike Foligno will go from the bench to the press box and aid Stevens and Oates, respectively. Dave Barr, the other assistant under DeBoer, was not retained.

"Everything is going to be kind of collective right now," Oates said about the decision-making process.

Lamoriello said he adopted this unique solution to the Devils problems because he did not feel it was fair to bring an outsider into the situation at this point in the season. He believes the familiarity Stevens and Oates have with him, the Devils preferred style of play and the team's personnel made the co-coach model ideal.

"I have lot of respect for Adam," Stevens said. "He's a smart man, a smart hockey player and I have a lot of respect. We're going to get this ship righted."

The Devils (12-17-7) are seventh in the Metropolitan Division with 31 points, nine points out of the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. DeBoer was in his fourth season as New Jersey's coach.

DeBoer took the Devils to the Stanley Cup Final in 2012, but they have not made the playoffs since.

In their final game before the Christmas break, the Devils lost 2-1 in a shootout to the Carolina Hurricanes, the last-place team in the Eastern Conference. New Jersey is 2-5-3 in its past 10 games. The Devils are 28th in the NHL in goals-per-game (2.11) this season after finishing 27th last season (2.40).

Last season, New Jersey was sixth in the division with 88 points and finished five points out of the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot. The Devils were 0-13 in the shootout.

New Jersey finished seven points out of a playoff berth in 2012-13, when it was 2-7 in the shootout.

DeBoer was hired by the Devils on July 19, 2011.

New Jersey finished with 102 points in 2011-12. The Devils lost in the Stanley Cup Final in six games to the Los Angeles Kings after defeating the Florida Panthers (seven games), Philadelphia Flyers (five games) and New York Rangers (six games) to win the Prince of Wales Trophy.

The Devils were 114-93-41 under DeBoer. They are 4-26 in the shootout since the start of the 2012-13 season. They went 12-4 in the shootout in 2011-12.

DeBoer leaves as the second-winningest coach in Devils history behind Jacques Lemaire (276). He is third in franchise history in total games coached (248) behind Lemaire (509) and Doug Carpenter (290).

DeBoer replaced Lemaire, who was brought back on an interim basis on Dec. 23, 2010, when Lamoriello fired John MacLean after 33 games.

Prior to coming to New Jersey, DeBoer spent three seasons as the coach of the Florida Panthers. He went 103-107-36 with the Panthers from 2008-11. Before that, he coached in the Ontario Hockey League for 13 seasons.

DeBoer is the third NHL coach fired this season. Paul MacLean of the Ottawa Senators was fired Dec. 8, and Dallas Eakins of the Edmonton Oilers a week later.

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