With a high payroll and even higher expectations, the San Jose Sharks announced Wednesday night that they fired head coach Pete DeBoer after an underwhelming first third of their season.
Bob Boughner, an assistant coach with the Sharks, takes over on an interim basis, the team said in a statement. The team also let go assistant coaches Dave Barr and Steve Spott and goalie coach Johan Hedberg, replacing them with associate coach Roy Sommer, assistant coach Mike Ricci and goaltending coach Evgeni Nabokov. Dan Darrow will remain in his current role of assistant coach for video.
DeBoer's firing was a hockey-related decision based on the team's on-ice performance, according to sources, and not related to commissioner Gary Bettman saying Monday that the league won't tolerate abusive coaches following the recent resignation of Calgary coach Bill Peters.
"When you have had a level of past success, change is never easy, but we feel this team is capable of much more than we have shown thus far and that a new voice is needed," Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said in a statement. "As a team and as individuals, our play has not met expectations this year and our level of consistency has not been where it needs to be. This group of individuals who will lead our team moving forward are very familiar with our players, and we think this change can provide our group with a fresh start."
The Sharks are 15-16-2 with 32 points on the season, sitting five points out of the final wild-card spot and six points behind third-place Calgary in the Pacific Division. Their .485 points percentage is the fourth lowest in the conference.
San Jose has been wildly inconsistent this season, with winless streaks of four games and five games twice, including the current skid that ended DeBoer's tenure. The Sharks went on the road for four games and lost all four, collecting only a single point in a shootout loss to Carolina. They were outscored 23-7 during the five-game streak.
Defense and discipline have been the primary problems for the Sharks. The team has the fourth-worst save percentage in the NHL (.887) and has allowed the second-most goals with 113. The Sharks average 12.6 penalty minutes per game, which leads the NHL.
DeBoer, 51, was in his fifth season as head coach, with a 198-129-34 record. He led the team to the 2016 Western Conference championship in his first season in San Jose, and he coached it to a conference finals loss to St. Louis last season.
DeBoer's firing marks the fifth coaching change in the NHL this season and the third this month. Alain Nasreddine took over for John Hynes in New Jersey on Dec. 3, and Rick Bowness was announced as the interim coach when Dallas fired Jim Montgomery on Tuesday for "unprofessional conduct."
Boughner, 48, is a former NHL defenseman who played for six teams over a 10-year period. He was the head coach of the Florida Panthers from 2017 to 2019, and was replaced by Joel Quenneville last summer.