Sharks

Firing Peter DeBoer was difficult decision for Sharks' Doug Wilson

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AP

Firing Peter DeBoer was difficult decision for Sharks' Doug Wilson

SAN JOSE - Suffice it to say, it's typical for a manager to pick up the phone and call an employee the company is about to let go. It's rare to hear of a manager going to an employee's house to deliver the news.

But that's exactly what Sharks general manager Doug Wilson did when he delivered the news to Peter DeBoer and his coaching staff Wednesday.

"Heading over to his house yesterday was probably one of the toughest things I've done in this business," Wilson told reporters at SAP Center on Thursday, revealing that DeBoer's coaching staff was present for the meeting as well.

In a press conference that formally introduced Bob Boughner as the Sharks interim head coach, Wilson took the time to explain the arduousness of the choice to relieve DeBoer of his head coaching duties.

"This has been a very difficult decision and it's not a decision we made lightly," Wilson said at the start of the press conference. "I can't thank Pete DeBoer enough for what he's done for this organization. Not only in the coaching job but as a man and as a person."

DeBoer's dismissal comes in the wake of a winless road trip for the Sharks and a losing streak that has extended the entire month of December thus far. It isn't this one winless stretch that drove Wilson to make a coaching change, however. San Jose got off to a rough first month of the season but turned things around and had one of the best months of November the Sharks have ever had. 

When their fortunes changed for the worse this time around, however, Wilson knew that something needed to change and tough decisions had to be made.

"It's not about the blame game, it's about finding solutions," Wilson said. "You look back at the success and the journey that we've had. But then, honestly, you take a look at the results that have been unacceptable this year."

Wilson revealed to a smaller group of reporters after the press conference that the decision to make a coaching change occurred on the flight home from the road trip following a 3-1 loss to the Nashville Predators and a four-game trip where the Sharks were outscored 22-7.

"I was sitting there and you could feel it," Wilson said of the flight. "We were feeling pretty good about ourselves prior to that trip. Even in the Carolina game, I thought we battled back and got going. But something was lingering, there was something that just wasn't quite right. And my job is to find solutions and say, 'How can we get back? How can we get that energy and joy?' When you get that feeling, it's contagious and you can put games together. But when you're scratching and clawing to stay in the game, that sometimes means something is missing."

Even with that tough decision made and finalized, Wilson reiterated that he wished DeBoer and his coaching staff all the best -- which had a lot to do with his decision to go over to DeBoer's house.

"To me, it's respect," Wilson said. "I have such great respect for him, both him and his wife, and that's how you do business. He was so first class."

[RELATED: Sharks players shocked at decision to fire DeBoer]

Wilson added that DeBoer "respected" the decision of the organization to hand the reigns over the Boughner, who was in his second tour on DeBoer's coaching staff following a brief head coaching stint with the Florida Panthers. In Wilson's eyes, bringing in a new voice -- even one as familiar as Boughner's -- can help turn things around.

"Sometimes, bringing coaches in does that," Wilson said. "With other teams, we've seen that. It doesn't make me happy that that might be what was needed. But it's not that Pete did anything wrong. It's just that, sometimes, maybe (you need) that little jolt and we all should look in the mirror and take responsibility."

Bob Boughner urges Sharks to 'man up' after shutout loss to Avalanche

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USATSI

Bob Boughner urges Sharks to 'man up' after shutout loss to Avalanche

Just when you think the Sharks have figured things out, they drop a couple games in a row and look really bad in the process.

After beating the Blue Jackets and Stars at home last week, San Jose headed to Arizona and lost 6-3 on Tuesday night. Two days later, it got even worse for Bob Boughner's club as the Avalanche shut out the Sharks 4-0 on Thursday night.

San Jose heads to Vancouver to face the Canucks on Saturday before getting eight days off due to the NHL All-Star break.

For Boughner, it's time for his club to put up or shut up.

"I think it's crucial for us," Boughner told reporters in Colorado. "I think Vancouver, a team that's in the division and ahead of us, before we get into this break and end it off on the right note, we felt really good about ourselves and the way we were playing before this trip and things haven't gone our way for the first two games.

"I think it's time to man up. We've got too many guys that are not on the same page right now in the last two games and we're not a good enough team to do that. We proved that we can play with the best teams if we play the right way and we've got all 20 guys going and stick to the plan. But when we don't, we're average at best."

The Sharks are in danger of missing the playoffs for just the second time since the 2003-04 season, and Brenden Dillon understands every game the rest of the way is vitally important.

"Yeah, it's a division game, it's a team we're chasing and I think all these games we've got to have that playoff mindset of do-or-die mentality going in and show some desperation," Dillon told reporters. "A lot of these teams are battling, whether that's for playoff spots or home-ice or whatever it is in the divisions. But esepcially against Vancouver, a good team that's going well, so we've got to finish on a high."

[RELATED: Boughner reacts to Vegas hiring DeBoer]

After the loss to the Avs, the Sharks sit at 21-24-4 with 33 games remaining. They are nine points out of a wild-card spot, but every loss chips away at their margain for error.

If they don't turn things around in a hurry, it will be a long summer in San Jose.

Peter DeBoer will use lessons learned with Sharks to help Golden Knights

Peter DeBoer will use lessons learned with Sharks to help Golden Knights

Peter DeBoer spent four-plus seasons leading the Sharks. He coached them to Stanley Cup Final and another Western Conference Final berth.

But messages get stale and general manager Doug Wilson made the decision to relieve DeBoer of his duties in December with the Sharks sitting at 15-16-2. A month later, DeBoer now finds himself at the helm of the Sharks' archrival -- the Vegas Golden Knights. 

DeBoer was hired Wednesday, replacing Gerrard Gallant who was fired after the Golden Knights fell out of the playoff picture. 

In his first comments since being announced as head coach, DeBoer said he thinks he can take some lessons he learned in San Jose and apply them to his new club.

"The one thing I learned in San Jose is if you can walk into a locker room with good character and good people that you can find your way through the turbulent waters," DeBoer said after the Golden Knights' morning skate. "I think that's probably the case here. You got a real good group of men that care, and we'll find our way through it."

In the midst of a four-game losing streak, the Golden Knights find themselves at 24-19-6, just behind the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Vegas entered the season with Stanley Cup aspirations. While they have underachieved to this point, DeBoer led the Sharks to a similar turnaround a few years back. 

"This is a team that the goal is to win the Stanley Cup," DeBoer said. "They are one of those teams. I feel like we've been one of those teams in San Jose the last four or five years. That's the goal. I can tell you that the year we went to the Final with San Jose, December or January we were right around .500, you know, spinning our tires a little bit. We found a way to get it going in the right direction. The list is endless of teams that are in this situation at some point or another. It's one of the things I'll talk to the players about.

"A little bit of adversity, I think is always a good thing. it's just how you deal with it." 

[RELATED: Why Sharks should go after Gallant]

DeBoer was well-liked in the Sharks' locker room and his firing left the players stunned and shocked.

Eight months ago, Gallant called DeBoer a "clown" before the Sharks and Golden Knights played a memorable Game 7 in their first-round playoff series.

Now, DeBoer will be tasked with helping Vegas do what he couldn't in San Jose. Win it all.