LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The Vegas Golden Knights are set to host the Seattle Kraken in their regular-season home opener Tuesday night.
Head coach Pete DeBoer recently joined Tina Nguyen to talk about the upcoming season and share what went into his decision to join the Golden Knights as their head coach.
This will be the Golden Knights' fifth season in Las Vegas.
Tina Nguyen: You got hired here in January of 2020. Two months later, of course, the whole world flipped upside down. We're kind of still living in it. But when you reflect back on that time, what do you make of it now?
Pete DeBoer: Wow. What a whirlwind. I mean, I took over in January on the road in the middle of a 10-game road trip. So you know, that was a little overwhelming to begin with. And then you know, as soon as we got through that and started to get some traction, then COVID hit, we pause the season, we came back, had the bubble playoffs, which I really enjoyed, because I got to spend intimate time with the group.
Nguyen: What was it like to kind of come here and have to lead a whole new team and a whole new organization?
DeBoer: A whole new team and organization is interesting on a normal year. But then when you've been their arch-rival for three years in San Jose, there was a little tension in the room. I think guys were looking around and going, you know, this guy has been on the enemy bench. The Sharks and Golden Knights have had some real rivalry series and games over the last three, four years when I was in San Jose.
Nguyen: Was it still like kind of meeting your ex-girlfriend again?
DeBoer: *laughs* A little bit. An angry ex-girlfriend.
Nguyen: What was that phone call like about you potentially becoming the head coach here?
DeBoer: Honestly, I didn't have to think about it very long. You know, I love the city. I love the organization. I love the ownership. I love the players and the way they played over the years and the story of the franchise. So you know, it didn't take me long to to say yes.
Nguyen: You have so much depth at the forward position. What do you do with all that talent?
DeBoer: Managing talent like that is always a coach's best problem. You know, you always have tough conversations, you got to convince guys to maybe take some lesser roles than they would on teams that aren't as good. One thing about our group is they want to win. And I think we've got a group that's willing to sacrifice personal statistics or race time. If it gives him a chance to win.
Nguyen: Everyone is aware of how high the expectations are here that is to bring a Stanley Cup back to Las Vegas. What do you guys need to do to get over that hump?
DeBoer: I think you just got to keep knocking on the door. You know, I spent some time with Jon Cooper from Tampa this summer. Tampa just won back-to-back Stanley Cups, the eight years prior nine years prior to that, you know, they were the team that couldn't get over the hump. I think you've got to tweak some things which our management has done. I think we've got to tweak some things from a coaching point of view, which we've done. And then you just got to keep knocking on the door.
Nguyen: Lastly, I read that you went to law school, you ever think about becoming a lawyer at some point. What's maybe the harder job?
DeBoer: I went to law school, had a job lined up at a law firm, got a coaching opportunity that same month, and took the coaching opportunity and said, "You know what, I want to do this for a year to just have some fun." Then I'll go and practice law for the rest of my life and never went back. Thank God. So I think I chose the right path.
Nguyen: What nudged you to do coaching?
DeBoer: Oh, just a lot more fun. I had sat a couple of summers as a law clerk in offices and taking notes and things like that. I wasn't built for that type of desk work yet. And, you know, thankfully, I was able to carve out a career, doing something I love which is what everyone hopes to do.