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Golden Knights hire DeBoer as new coach, fire Gallant

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Golden Knights hire DeBoer as new coach, fire Gallant

Gerard Gallant was abruptly fired by the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday less than two years after leading them to the Stanley Cup Final in their first season of existence and winning NHL coach of the year honors along the way.

Peter DeBoer, fired last month by the San Jose Sharks, takes over immediately and will be the Vegas coach the rest of the season.

General manager Kelly McCrimmon announced the change the morning after a 4-2 loss to Buffalo dropped Vegas out of a playoff position in the Western Conference. The Golden Knights have lost four in a row, matching the longest point drought in their brief franchise history.

"In order for our team to reach its full potential, we determined a coaching change was necessary. Our team is capable of more than we have demonstrated this season," McCrimmon said. "In Peter DeBoer, we have a proven, experienced head coach who we believe can help us achieve our ultimate goal."

Gallant was fired less than two years after winning the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year for his role in helping the Golden Knights reach the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, where they lost in five games to Washington. They also made the playoffs last season before losing in seven games in the first round to DeBoer's Sharks.

Before some rough patches this season, Gallant was on a honeymoon since being hired in April 2017 to coach the league's 31st team.

He helped president of hockey operations George McPhee and McCrimmon during the Golden Knights' successful expansion draft and instilled a workmanlike attitude that helped a ragtag group of players come together during a magical inaugural season. Vegas won eight of its first nine games and put together a stirring run through the playoffs to land in the final against the Capitals.

Assistant coach Mike Kelly, who came with DeBoer from the Florida Panthers, was also fired.

"We would like to thank Gerard and Mike for their service to the Vegas Golden Knights," McCrimmon said. "They were both instrumental to the success we have enjoyed in our first two-plus seasons, and we wish them all the best moving forward. "

This is the seventh coaching change in the NHL this season and the fifth for performance reasons. Vegas is the third team to change coaches after facing the Sabres, a loss that didn't sit well among players.

"It's tougher, especially when you're losing to teams you know that you're better than," Golden Knights winger Mark Stone said Tuesday night. "We're a better hockey team. Just have to find ways to put the puck in the net, and we've kind of gotten stale last bunch of games."

The Golden Knights are 8-6-1 in their last 15 but are only three points out of first place in the Pacific Division. Gallant was set to coach the Pacific team at All-Star Weekend later this month after Vegas led the division at the halfway mark.

Things haven't gone well since then. The power play is 5 of 12 over the past 12 games, and the penalty kill gave up two goals to the Sabres, who are ranked 21st in the league.

"They're still doing the same type of things, whether it's unlucky or bad opportunities," Gallant said after the loss. "It's just not working right now."

DeBoer was fired by the Sharks in December amid their disappointing season. DeBoer, who Gallant once called a "clown," is the permanent replacement with no interim designation.

DeBoer is the second coach to be fired this season and join a new team after John Hynes went from New Jersey to Nashville. He is now with his fourth team as head coach after stints with New Jersey, Florida and San Jose.

Vegas is 24-19-6 and next plays Thursday night at Ottawa.

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Player from Capitals' AHL affiliate discharged from hospital after losing consciousness

Player from Capitals' AHL affiliate discharged from hospital after losing consciousness

Giant Center, then home of Capitals AHL affiliate Hershey Bears, was the site of a scary moment Tuesday night when prospect Kale Kessy dropped the gloves in the second period of their game against the Charlotte Checkers and started fighting with defenseman Derek Sheppard.

Kessy and Sheppard exchanged blows before the Checkers’ defenseman gained the upper hand and landed a knockout punch.

The Bears’ winger hit his head on the ice before he “lost, but regained consciousness on the ice,” according to a statement released by the team. While being wheeled off the ice on a stretcher, he told his teammates, “go win the game.”

Hershey did just that, dominating the Checkers 6-1 behind a hat trick by Virginia native Joe Snively. Kessy was transported to the hospital where he stayed overnight before being discharged the next morning.

“I would like to send my heartfelt thank you to Hershey Bears fans for their thoughts, prayers, and support following my injury last night,” Kessy said in a statement released by the Bears on Wednesday. “Additionally, I’d like to thank our trainers, doctors, EMTs, Bob Goodman, and Milton S. Hershey Medical Center for providing me immediate and exceptional care. I am feeling better today, and I look forward to rejoining my Hershey Bears teammates soon.”

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Alex Ovechkin's wife, Nastya, shares their engagement story

Alex Ovechkin's wife, Nastya, shares their engagement story

On Tuesday, as the Washington Capitals honored Alex Ovechkin for his 700th career goals with a pregame ceremony, his wife, Nastya, and their son, Sergei, were proudly by his and even stole some of the spotlight.

While we know the couple is expecting their second child, we hadn't yet heard the story behind their engagement -- until now. Nastya shared that story in a recent interview with The Washington Post.

The couple first met in 2008 at the Summer Olympics in Beijing. They exchanged phone numbers at one of the events and became fast friends. After the Olympics, Ovechkin returned to Washington and Nastya returned to Russia, and the two eventually lost touch after Nastya lost her phone. 

Five years later the two reconnected and, eventually, Ovechkin invited Nastya to come to Washington, to which she accepted. 

One day while she was in the shower with shampoo in her hair, she heard frantic knocks on the door. 

“I was like, ‘What! Do you understand I am just …’ and he didn’t stop so I was like, ‘Oh my gosh’ and I got a towel and I opened the door and he is on one knee with the flowers and with the ring," Nastya said, per The Washington Post. "At first when I opened the door I thought I would kill him. Can you imagine you were in the shower and then you need to get out … oh my god. Why you couldn’t just wait? He said ‘No, no, no, I wanted to right now.'"

In 2016, they went to Russia to sign their marriage certificate and a year later they held their ceremonial wedding.

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