One of the themes leading up to Wednesday night’s Game 1 of the Kings-Devils Stanley Cup final has been reclamation.
Pete DeBoer is one such story.
Fourteen months after he was fired by the Florida Panthers following three straight non-playoff years, DeBoer was answering questions Wednesday morning about being on the sport’s biggest stage, surrounded on all sides by the Stanley Cup Finals logo.
The Devils announced the hiring of DeBoer on July 19. In his first year as coach, he led the team to a 102-point season.
“Like most unemployed guys, you’re sitting at home wondering where you’re going to work next. You’re thinking about your future, talking about selling your house,” DeBoer said. “It seems humorous now, but when you go through something like that … I have a rock-solid wife who I thought kept me in a good place through that time. It wasn’t that long ago.”
Searching for experience
Despite the franchise’s history of success, only five players on the current Devils played in the Cup final. Of those five players, just four — Martin Brodeur, Patrik Elias, Petr Sykora and Ryan Carter — have experienced winning the Cup. Dainius Zubrus was a member of the 1997 Flyers team that was swept by Detroit.
So what do you do if you’re a first-time coach in the Cup final? You have those who have been there before teach.
“The one advantage I think our organization has is the experience we have from the top down,” DeBoer said. “They’ve been there, seen it all, won [and] lost. Then filtering down, my assistant coaches with Larry Robinson, the nine Cups he’s won as a player and a coach. We have a wealth of experience all the way through the organization right to the locker room. We’ve got that in abundance. It makes my job easy.”
DeBoer was adamant that the Devils will follow their normal routine during the series.
“I don’t think you change anything. That’s the big part. I think the natural reaction, when you talk to people, is change the way you’ve done things,” DeBoer said. “I think part of the thing that we do well here is it’s business as usual. We’ve tried not to change a routine. I’m not planning on pulling out any great speeches. We’ve done our preparation. We’re a workman-like team and we’ll be ready to play.”
No more Rangers
The Devils could not get away without having to answer one last question about the Rangers, despite having ended their cross-river rival’s season five days ago.
DeBoer was asked if he had a message for those who may be disappointed that the Devils-Kings series does not hold the same intrinsic glamour as a New York-Los Angeles Stanley Cup final would have.
“The glamour of New York?” DeBoer asked sarcastically. He then added, “Tough luck.”
Follow NHL beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman for all your Stanley Cup news.