With the status of interim coach Bob Boughner uncertain after the season, plenty of coaching candidates are available for the San Jose Sharks with Peter Laviolette, a potential replacement after his dismissal from the Nashville Predators.
All signs are pointing towards a new head coach for the San Jose Sharks in 2020-21 as Peter Boughner is not getting the expected results. Progress of improvement by the Sharks is fruitless despite the past few games of better even-strength play and defense.
Instead, the Sharks are choosing to find ways to lose games after dominating performances. The game against Washington best exemplifies San Jose’s season in a nutshell.
After Logan Couture’s empty-net goal gave the Sharks a 4-2 lead with a minute left in regulation, the struggles of this team are only fitting on being on the wrong side of history. The Capitals scored two goals to level the score at the end of regulation and would eventually cap the comeback with an overtime marker.
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For the seventh time in the NHL, a team successfully overturned a two-goal deficit in the final minute of regulation to win the game. With the pitfalls seen by the Sharks this year, bad fortunes are keeping the team from climbing back into the playoff picture.
As the season moves forward, coaching vacancies are becoming available. Peter DeBoer will undoubtedly be behind a bench next season after being relieved of his duties by the Sharks in December.
Similar to the Sharks, the Nashville Predators are out of the playoff picture with a 19-15-7 record. In a surprise move, Nashville opted to dismiss Coach Laviolette, perhaps in efforts to light a fire under the team.
Coach Laviolette will likely get a call from Sharks’ general manager, Doug Wilson, over the summer to discuss the head coaching role. His experience is a considerable upgrade over DeBoer and, hopefully, get the Sharks back to winning ways.
Laviolette guided Carolina, Philadelphia, and Nashville to the Stanley Cup Final, winning a championship with the Hurricanes. Success comes under Laviolette, getting maximum effort from his players, and creating a winning formula.
But a poor start by the Flyers led to an early departure for Laviolette as the team lacked focus in the early stages. Philadelphia is a tough town with a passionate fanbase and wants a coach who can lead and solve the goaltending issue, an area that has plagued the Flyers from being legitimate contenders.
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Nashville picked up Laviolette in 2014, coaching the Predators before his firing. He turned Nashville into a squad of toughness, one in which made playing at their home rink formidable with the rowdy fans getting behind the Predators. A couple of division titles and an appearance in the 2017 Stanley Cup Final cemented Nashville’s status of competing yearly.
Unfortunately, both DeBoer and Laviolette fell to the demise of keeping the message as their respected teams could not find consistency. Nashville sits only four points out of a wild card spot, but the Predators’ recent performances prompted a change before the situation grew worse.
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If Laviolette does become the next coach of the Sharks, he must gain familiarity with the current farm system and be able to have roster decisions. DeBoer is perhaps the only hockey knowledgeable person along with Wilson in determining which young players were ready to play under his tenure.
DeBoer knew the farm system and gave roles to the players to perhaps give them the best opportunity. But given how weak San Jose’s farm system is with a lack of talent courtesy of sending draft picks away for current players (Erik Karlsson, Evander Kane).
Undoubtedly, Laviolette will want to coach a contender and not deal with a team in a rebuild mode. Given the current talent on the Sharks’ roster, Laviolette will certainly envy a chance to place his footprint in keeping San Jose competitive.
Sharks’ ownership spent up to the salary cap leaving little room to add players unless trades occur potentially. San Jose must leave ample space for the next campaign to allow Laviolette a chance to add free agents or influence decisions.
Under DeBoer, players got signed or acquired as the coach knew the type of skill set brought (Eric Fehr) to aid the Sharks in the playoffs. Laviolette provides similar traits and could target players from his time in the central division or the eastern conference.
The one disadvantage Laviolette faces is all too familiar with the recurring theme of Sharks’ Hockey; great regular seasons turn into playoff disappointments. DeBoer found the solution to get San Jose to the final in 2016 but unsuccessful after the run. Laviolette will face the task of keeping the Sharks on pace and getting over the final hurdle.
At this juncture, the Sharks are going to have a new head coach for next year. Peter Laviolette should be high on Wilson’s list and could potentially be the answer to the Sharks’ failures in the postseason.