Editor's note: Relive the Sharks' epic Game 7 comeback against the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday, April 12 at 9 p.m. PT on NBC Sports California.
Peter DeBoer coached the team that completed the greatest comeback in NHL playoff history. Less than a year later, he was coaching the team that was on the wrong side of that history.
All Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights coaches, players and fans know the game in question. Trailing by three goals in the third period of Game 7 -- after trailing the series three games to one -- San Jose scored not one, not two, not three ... count 'em ... FOUR goals on a single major power-play to flip the game script on its head. The drama was only beginning, though. Jonathan Marchessault tied things up in the final minute of regulation, and then after nearly a full 20-minute overtime period, Barclay Goodrow received a pass from Erik Karlsson, broke into the offensive zone and played the hero, scoring one of the most memorable goals in Sharks franchise history.
Though the two teams had already considered themselves rivals, that legendary game cemented that status for a long time to come. The Sharks and Golden Knights can't stand each other, and that animosity extends to the fanbases.
Tonight, they'll all get a chance to relive the climax of their head-to-head history when "The Comeback" is re-aired on NBC Sports California at 9 p.m.
DeBoer will be behind the Sharks' bench for that broadcast, but he doesn't reside there any longer. After being fired by San Jose on Dec. 11, 2019, he wasn't out of a job for much more than a month, as the rival Golden Knights fired their former coach Gerard Gallant on Jan. 15, 2020 and replaced him with DeBoer.
If you can imagine what it would have been like for Gallant to replace DeBoer and walk into San Jose's locker room after the bad blood shared between the two teams, you get a pretty good idea of the situation DeBoer inherited in Vegas.
"I'll be honest with you. It was a little uncomfortable walking in," DeBoer said on the "ESPN On Ice With Wyshynski and Kaplan" podcast last week. "We had some epic battles with that group over the last three years, having played them in the playoffs twice. All the baggage. Some of the games we had in the regular season. So my first meeting with the group was a little uncomfortable."
"From a fan perspective," DeBoer added, "I got a lot of, 'boy I hated you when you coached in San Jose, but we're starting to get used to you.' So that's good."
Though it took some time for the Golden Knights to turn things around after the coaching change, they soon hit their stride with DeBoer at the helm and won 11 of their last 13 games before the season was indefinitely paused due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As DeBoer explained, "winning helps."
The Sharks didn't experience quite the same turnaround following their coaching switch, but they still have a crucial element of the rivalry.
"Evander [Kane] was definitely Public Enemy No. 1," DeBoer said with a laugh. "I was No. 2."
As for who likely is No. 3, well, stick around for the end of the game tonight.