In this edition of Vegas Golden Knights News & Rumors, general manager Kelly McCrimmon confirmed on Monday that Pete DeBoer has been fired as the team’s head coach. In other news, plenty of discussion has surrounded pending free agent Reilly Smith in regards to where he may play for the 2022-23 season. Last but not least, Team Canada was able to pick up a 5-1 win over Slovakia at the 2022 IIHF World Championship, thanks in large part to the great play from a number of Golden Knights.
Golden Knights Fire DeBoer
On Monday afternoon, McCrimmon met with reporters to let them know that DeBoer has been fired as the teams head coach. The 53-year-old joined the organization midway through the 2019-20 season after the firing of Gerard Gallant, and led them to two straight Conference Finals before missing the playoffs entirely this year.
“After lengthy discussions over the last two weeks, we believe that a new coach will put us in the best position to succeed next season,” McCrimmon told reporters.
McCrimmon went on to say he didn’t want to get into the exact details of why a decision was made, as he didn’t want to be critical of DeBoer, who he said he has high respect for. He also mentioned that there will be a thorough process on who their new coach will be, but didn’t have an exact timeline for when a hiring will be made.
With the announcement, DeBoer’s 160-game tenure behind the Golden Knights bench has come to an end. Despite a frustrating 2021-22 season, he had plenty of success in his short stint with the club. As mentioned, he led them to back-to-back Conference Final appearances in each of the past two seasons, and accumulated a 98-50-12 record during his 160 regular season games. He will likely receive plenty of interest from other teams looking for head coaches this summer.
Smith’s Future as Golden Knight Remains Unclear
As much change as this Golden Knights team has seen since entering the league back in 2017-18, one player that has remained with the organization from the get go has been Smith. The 31-year-old has blossomed since being taken back in the 2017 expansion draft, and is known as one of the teams best two-way players. He was once again solid in 2021-22 when healthy, recording 16 goals and 38 points in 56 games.
By all accounts, everyone would like to see him back with the Golden Knights next season, though that may be easier said than done. With his five-year, $25 million contract now expired, management may simply not be able to make the money work in order to bring him back given how tight they already are to the salary cap.
While the organization hasn’t commented on Smith’s future, it has been made known from several reporters that they would like to keep him around. Whether or not they are able to figure out a way to do so, however, remains to be seen.
Several Golden Knights Contributing for Team Canada
On Monday, three Golden Knights in Zach Whitecloud, Nicolas Roy and Logan Thompson were able to contribute to Team Canada’s 5-1 win over Slovakia at the IIHF 2022 World Championship. Roy was able to chip in with one assist in the contest, giving him three points through his first three games. Whitecloud, on the other hand, has gone pointless through the opening three contests, but has been an extremely steady presence on the back end, similar to what we have seen from him with the Golden Knights. (from ‘The Canadian Press: Canadian men post another one-sided victory at hockey worlds to stay unbeaten’ , CBC,Reilly Sm 05/16/22).
Perhaps the most impressive of the three in the early stages of the tournament is Thompson, who has started two of Team Canada’s three games. He has recorded wins in both of those starts, while compiling a 2.00 goals-against average, along with a .929 save percentage. It is an excellent start for the 25-year-old netminder, who is coming off of a very impressive 19-game stint with the Golden Knights this season.
Up Next for the Golden Knights
As previously mentioned, the firing of DeBoer means that the search for a new coach is underway. Many have speculated that Barry Trotz will be their top target, but there are several other teams who will likely have the same mindset. Regardless of what decision they make, there are several other great coaches available on the market, and it appears this management group is going to take their time and make sure they pick the one they believe will mesh the best with the players they have.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Yahoo Sports, Las Vegas Chronicle, Oil On Whyte, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.