SAN JOSE -- Peter DeBoer said he was surprised to get fired, but the former San Jose Sharks coach will look back at his five seasons with fond memories.
"When you look at the terms of pro coaches, NHL coaches are some of the shortest ones," said DeBoer, who went 198-129-34 with the Sharks. "We know that's always on the table. It's a part of the job we accept.
"But I prefer to remember the great fans here, the great ownership that I walked into, the great leadership that Doug's group provided, and the great memories I have with a special group of men here the last four years here."
DeBoer, along with three assistants (Dave Barr, Steve Spott and Johan Hedberg), were fired Dec. 11. The Sharks are 1-1-0 since Bob Boughner took over as coach; they were 15-16-2 at the time of the firings, five points from the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.
San Jose qualified for the playoffs in each of DeBoer's first four seasons. He guided the Sharks to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in their history in 2016, when they lost in six games to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"Everyone told me when I took the job, the window in San Jose was closed or closing," DeBoer said. "We went on to play four seasons of great playoff hockey. It's something I wouldn't trade for anything."
DeBoer said he has great respect for Sharks general manager Doug Wilson, owner Hasso Plattner and the fans in San Jose.
But he was most complimentary of his players.
"I got very fortunate to walk into a dressing room here with some of the best men I've been around in pro sports," DeBoer said. "They showed up, they worked every day, they led by example and they had fun doing it.
"I enjoyed a four-year ride with that group, and versions of that group, that I'll never forget."
DeBoer, who also coached the Florida Panthers (2008-11) and the New Jersey Devils (2011-14), said he's looking forward to perhaps receiving another opportunity in the NHL.
"I'm like all competitive coaches," said DeBoer, who led the Devils to the Cup Final in 2012. "You're first reaction is, 'Boy, it would be nice to take some time off.' Then two days into that, the coaching itch flares up and you start thinking about scratching it sooner than later."