May 8, 2012, 11:11 PM EDT
In the first round, some New Jersey Devils fans blamed head coach Peter DeBoer for the team’s struggles against the Florida Panthers. Considering the seemingly total advantage the Devils generated against the Philadelphia Flyers in a five-game series triumph, the opposite might be appropriate: maybe DeBoer was the difference. Perhaps he out-coached Peter Laviolette.
“Our big weapon is the coaching staff,” Brodeur said. “They prepare us [and] make changes to our system better than a lot of the coaches that I had in the past.”
Interesting stuff. One can imagine GM Lou Lamoriello shaking his head vigorously at this sentiment being that he developed a reputation for firing head coaches like hot cakes. (He even stepped behind the bench late in one season because of his itchy trigger finger.)
Hockey is a sport where coaching is becoming increasingly sophisticated, but the Devils’ tradition of success might create a “chicken and the egg” argument regarding DeBoer’s impact. Still, one cannot help but marvel at the Devils’ NHL-record penalty kill – which included decent time for supposedly defensively lacking star Ilya Kovalchuk – as one obvious example of his success. Attribute it to drafting as much as you want, but the development of younger contributors like David Clarkson and Adam Henrique is hard to ignore as well.
Combine DeBoer with NHL greats-turned-assistants in Larry Robinson and Adam Oates and it makes sense that Brodeur would provide such rave reviews.
Ultimately, coaches are judged based upon results more than anything else across sports. In that regard, DeBoer is looking like a big success (or “weapon”).
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