New Golden Knights Coach Peter DeBoer discusses new team, moving to Las Vegas

FOX5 sat down with Vegas Golden Knights Coach Peter DeBoer as he settles into his new role.
FOX5 sat down with Vegas Golden Knights Coach Peter DeBoer as he settles into his new role.(FOX5)
Updated: Feb. 3, 2020 at 4:10 PM PST
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - “It’s been a blur,” new Vegas Golden Knights Coach Peter DeBoer said of his sudden hiring to the team. DeBoer sat down with FOX5 at City National Arena.

“I got a call and was on a bench coaching in Ottawa literally 24 hours later,” DeBoer said. “I’ve always admired this franchise from the other side of the rink and the bench. The electricity of the building and the passion of the fans. To experience it first hand, and to walk around this city is something special.”

DeBoer was hired as new head coach Jan. 15, after the firing of Gerard Gallant. DeBoer was previously coach to the San Jose Sharks from 2015 through December 2019.

“When the Vegas number popped up, I wasn’t sure what to expect,” DeBoer said. “I sure wasn’t expecting that call.”

DeBoer knows firsthand how Gallant felt being dismissed from the team. The Sharks fired DeBoer late last year.

“It’s always mixed emotions because you know your opportunity is costing other good people their jobs,” DeBoer said. “I was on the other end of that in San Jose a month earlier. That’s always tough.”

A NOTE TO VGK FANS

The firing of Gallant left a sour taste in the mouths of devote VGK fans, but DeBoer hopes to win over the Fortress by bringing the team to victory.

“As a coach, all you can do is win,” DeBoer said. “We’ve got to win games. If we win games, you hope that eventually that sting will wear off and I can become part of this community and the fabric of this team.”

WHO IS PETER DEBOER?

Despite the grind of being an NHL coach, DeBoer is a grounded family man who has been married to his high school sweetheart for 25 years. DeBoer has three kids: daughter Abigail is a junior in college in Canada, son Jack is on a hockey scholarship at Boston University and his youngest Matt is a senior in high school at Connecticut Hockey Prep School.

“They’re the ones, when you get fired, they have to deal with the fallout. You get hired, they have to deal with moving to a new place and finding a new house, which my wife is out doing right now in the Vegas area,” DeBoer said. “They’re really the backbone of what I do, and I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without their support.”

During his time in San Jose, DeBoer traveled to the city solo while his family focused on school. Now, the family is ready to relocate.

“We’re from Canada and couldn’t have picked a better spot,” DeBoer said. “When I told her it was going to be Las Vegas, she was overjoyed with the opportunity of living in this area.”

LAS VEGAS LIFE

With the change in climate, the outdoorsy family is looking forward to trips to Red Rock and exploring the desert terrain.

But before DeBoer can enjoy Southern Nevada in the off-season, there’s still work to do. His main duty? Getting the Golden Knights back to the playoffs for a run in the Stanley Cup. However, DeBoer is also charged with image rehabilitation as the new face of the VGK family.

VGK V. SHARKS - A WEST COAST RIVALRY

The scene: Game 7 of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs. VGK had a commanding 3-0 lead midway through the third period when Sharks’ Joe Pavelski hit the ice hard, sending blood everywhere. The referees gave Knights’ Cody Eakin a 5-minute major penalty despite replays showing it was not. The Sharks scored four goals in just four minutes and beat VGK 5-4 in overtime, eliminating the Golden Knights. The ruling forever linked DeBoer with the Golden Knights, even before his hiring.

Until he creates his own history with VGK, it will be the memory fans flash back to when they see DeBoer.

WAS IT A MAJOR?

“No it wasn’t a major. I think everybody knew that at the time,” DeBoer said. “I think everyone knew it was a tough call that we took advantage of. Referees are human and mistakes get made. They actually made a rule at the league-level to try and make sure nothing like that never happens again. I’m not going to complain that we were on the right side of that.”

HE’S ALSO A LAWYER

QUESTION: What do you take from your law background that makes you a better coach?

ANSWER:

“That’s a great question. I use my law background every day. I think coaching today’s athlete, it used to be a dictatorship. You tell them to jump and how high. You didn’t have to make a case why or why it was good for them or why it was good for the team. Now coaching is about developing relationships and convincing people to do uncomfortable things. To do that, you have to have conversations and make the case why. Why it’s going to help them, why it’s going to help the group moving forward. So, I use those skills I learned in law school on a daily basis. I don’t think I would’ve predicted it 25 years ago when I graduated from law school that I would use it this much. But I do, and it was one of the best things I ever did was get that law degree.”

FROM THE SHARK TANK TO THE FORTRESS

“Electric is the only word (to describe T-Mobile),” DeBoer said. “I’d never seen anything like it. It’s a combination rock concert, hockey game and show. It’s like no other sporting event I’ve been to at any other sporting rink in America.”

A MESSAGE TO THE VGK FANDOM

“We’re here to try and get this turned in the right direction,” DeBoer said of his new position. “We’re going to do everything in our power to do it. We believe in this team, this community, the rink and the fans. I feel very privileged to be here and can’t wait to get to work.”