Hiring a coach is a tricky task.
It's part guesswork, part gamble, and a little bit of luck. Now the hope is the guesses are educated, the gambles are well-researched, and that you make your own luck, and I truly think the Stars have done that with Pete DeBoer.
The man announced as the team's new head coach on Tuesday is a veteran presence with a proven track record and seems like a good fit for this organization at this time. He has a history of winning in the playoffs, and that's pretty uch become the mantra of this team for the past few years. And the thing is DeBoer can actually improve on that philosophy.
[WORTH A CLICK: Stars name Pete DeBoer the 25th head coach in franchise history]
While the Stars have bounced around sixth, seventh and eight place in the conference, DeBoer's teams typically are closer to top four and home seed in the first round. Then, when he gets there, the 54-year-old bench boss has a history of doing something. He took Vegas three rounds deep in 2020 and 2021. He took the Sharks to the Stanley Cup Final in 2016 and won six series in four seasons before getting fired in 2020.
He went to the Stanley Cup Final with New Jersey back in 2012 and his 56-47 career playoff record ranks third among current coaches. So he has some skins on the wall.
Of course, there are always two sides to the coin, so why was he available? Well, Vegas missed the playoffs and wanted to go in a new direction. It was only after three seasons, and the Golden Knights didn't show a ton of patience or confidence, but Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon said at the time the decision was made to put Vegas in a better position moving forward.
"I've got a lot of respect for Pete as a man, I've got a lot of respect for him as a coach," McCrimmon told ESPN. "These decisions are made for the future.''
DeBoer had a 98-50-12 record in three seasons with Vegas, ranking 10th in that span. His teams ranked 11th in scoring at 3.27 goals per game, seventh in goals against at 2.75, second in shots on goal at 34.0 per game and fourth in shots against at 29.0. Dallas ranked 20th in scoring at 2.74 goals per game and sixth in goals against at 2.73. The Strs were 20th in shots on goal per game at 30.4 and 10th in shots against at 30.1, so there is a chance the new coaching staff can bring more of a possession game.
Again, those are all guesses, and you just have to see how DeBoer and his new crew will interact with the talents here.
On the good side, the Stars have some great young talent in Miro Heiskanen, Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz, Thomas Harley and Jake Oettinger and could have even more coming in the form of Wyatt Johnson, Ty Dellandrea, Mavrik Bourque and Logan Stankoven. DeBoer is walking into a great situation where the Stars should be able to play a speedy game if they so choose.
The Stars also should get an interesting reset on the coaching staff. While the previous group did a great job in getting Dallas to the Stanley Cup Final in 2020, they were oddly assembled. Jim Montgomery was hired out of college in 2018 and veteran Rick Bowness was hired to run the defense and be a mentor of sports and Montgomery's friend John Stevens was added the next season. That made it awkward in 2019 when Montgomery was fired for "unprofessional conduct." Bowness took over as head coach and started running the forward. Stevens moved back and started running the defense. Derek Laxdal came up from the AHL and started running the power play and helping with the forwards.
While they all adjusted, general manager Jim Nill said he would have liked it if Bowness could have assembled his own staff. DeBoer will get the opportunity, so that part of the Stars will get a fresh start.
Bottom line, the team has a chance to be competitive immediately. They have made the playoffs in three of the past four seasons, losing twice in Game 7 overtimes and advancing to the Cup Final in 2020. They have several players within their prime and a great group of prospects waiting to push up. While they have to negotiate new deals for Robertson and Oettinger (as well as Hintz next summer), they seem to have the ability to fill whatever holes might pop up.
So while this is an educated guess and researched gamble, DeBoer looks like a good fit who could be in the right place at the right time.
The problem with coaching searches is you just don't know until it all plays out.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.
Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.