New Jersey Devils name Peter DeBoer new head coach

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NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - After missing the playoffs for the first time since 1996, the New Jersey Devils have turned to Peter DeBoer to get them to the back to the postseason.

It’s a simple assignment, but seemingly an odd choice by Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello.

The 43-year-old DeBoer spent the past three seasons as the coach of the Florida Panthers and was fired in April after failing to lead them to the playoffs during his tenure.

Lamoriello wasn’t concerned about DeBoer’s qualifications on Tuesday after ending a nearly four-month search to find a replacement for Jacques Lemaire, who went back into retirement after the season ended.

Lamoriello insisted that DeBoer was one of the best young coaches in the business, and his three seasons with the Panthers only made him a better coach.

“Coming out of junior, he was the most highly sought after junior coach,” Lamoriello said. “But I also know from experience there is a transition and when you go through a transition, you make mistakes. If you are intelligent and admit them and learn from them, you can only be a better coach and better person.”

Lamoriello began courting DeBoer after the season ended and the two stayed in touch over the 15-plus weeks since the season ended.

DeBoer said he knew Lamoriello considered others for the coaching job and he remained patient as word that former NHL coaches Ken Hitchcock, Guy Carbonneau and Michel Therrien and current Devils assistant Larry Robinson were in the mix.

Lamoriello eventually turned to DeBoer and finalized the deal on Tuesday morning. A hastily called news conference at the Prudential Center followed with the Devils refusing to confirm their new coach until he walked into the room with Lamoriello.

The coaching change is the ninth for the Devils since the late Pat Burns stepped down after being diagnosed with cancer in 2005. The last major introductory news conference took place roughly 13 months ago, when former Devils star forward John MacLean was introduced. He lasted until Dec. 23, when he was fired with the Devils dead last in the Atlantic Division.

Lemaire came out of retirement and the Devils made a run at the playoffs, but fell short. They finished with a 38-39-5 record.

DeBoer knows the Devils‘ coaching history. He also knows that he needs to produce … and quickly.

“I think Lou is looking for some stability in this position and it’s my responsibility that I don’t give him a reason to make a change,” DeBoer said. “That’s on me to make sure we have success and make sure we play the right way so that’s not an option.”

Lamoriello did not make any excuses for the many coaching changes through the years.

“You want to win,” he said. “Stability brings winning, but you want to win. If you are not winning, what good is stability? It’s as simple as that. I don’t apologize for it.”

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