Not many teams can say their coaches share a bond beyond the hockey rink, one so strong that has led them to the NHL together and now the Stanley Cup Final. According to the National Post, San Jose Sharks Head Coach Peter DeBoer and Assistant Coach Steve Spott have known each other since they were teenagers. They met through mutual friends, and this is where their bond began.
Can Sharks Coaches Spott and DeBoer Find Success Together Again?
DeBoer started out his coaching career with the Detroit Junior Red Wings in 1994-95 season who were later renamed the Detroit Whalers. In his time there, he led them to both a successful season where they were awarded first place in the West Division and made it to the third round in the playoffs, along with a struggling 1995-96 season with a record of 26-34-6 and elimination in the first round of the playoffs. Spott started his career coaching the Markham Waxers of the Metro Junior A Hockey League in the 1995-96 season, leading them to a 35-17-5 record.
The birth of their coaching days together came in the 1997-98 season when DeBoer became head coach of the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers while Spott was named assistant coach. In their first season they led them to a second place finish in the West Division and elimination in the third round of the playoffs. The 1998-99 season brought great success with the Whalers earning the highest amount of points in the league with 106, along with the Hamilton Spectator Trophy and DeBoer winning the Matt Leyden Trophy for OHL Coach of the Year. In their last two seasons with Plymouth, they earned the best record in the league once again, with another Matt Leyden Trophy for DeBoer.
The two remained in the OHL together, switching over to the Kitchener Rangers with their same positions. The Rangers continued to improve under the wing of these two, winning the Hamilton Spectator Trophy in 2002-03 season with a league-best 100 points. This was the year Kitchener went on to the Memorial Cup and defeated the Hull Olympiques, earning their first Memorial Cup since 1982.
Another highlight for these two in Kitchener came in the 2007-08 season where the Rangers ended the season with an amazing record of 53-11-4 and 110 points. This was the year the Rangers hosted the Memorial Cup, where they defeated the Belleville Bulls to advance to the Memorial Cup final, however were later defeated by the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League.
In 2008, DeBoer left Spott as head coach in Kitchener while he moved on to become the head coach for the Florida Panthers. DeBoer lead the Panthers to a franchise high in the 2008-09 season, followed by a struggling season for the Panthers in the 09-10 season with a 32-37-13 record, which further lead to DeBoer’s firing. Back in Kitchener, Spott continued to lead the Rangers to solid seasons, making it to the playoffs five out of the six seasons he was head coach.
In 2011, DeBoer headed to New Jersey where he led them to become Eastern Conference champions in the 2011-12 season, but unfortunately the team fell following this season. He remained for four seasons until he was faced with more hardship when he was fired in December 2014. After one season with the Toronto Marlies leading them to the Western Conference Finals and moving on to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Spott got a taste of what that was like, when shortly after he was fired from the Leafs after his one season as assistant coach.
Their bond was evident during these hard times, as DeBoer was offered a head coaching job for the Sharks in May of 2015 and he was there for Spott, as he reached out to him and asked him to join him on the bench. This was an offer Spott could not refuse, as it meant the two were united again.
Like any coach, they have both had success, on top of disappointing moments. However, the failures have only brought them back together, making it a realization that maybe everything does happen for a reason.
With only one short season with the Sharks, they have led their team to a successful 98-point regular season, and an impressive playoff run with defeats over the Los Angeles Kings in five games, the Nashville Predators in seven games and the St Louis Blues in six games.
Here they stand in the Stanley Cup Final down 3-2, with an impressive showing in Game 5. Martin Jones stole the Penguins hope at the Cup at home allowing only two goals on 46 shots for a .975 save percentage for the night. Although Jones was a star of the night, the Sharks were outshot 46-22, which needs to improve if they are looking to force a Game 7.
Spott and DeBoer have won the most prestigious award in the OHL together, so there is no saying they can’t do it again with the Stanley Cup. When coaches already share a special bond and know how to work together, this shows that no matter what hardships you may face as a team, you will always get through them together. That is the most important part of teamwork.
Some bonds just can’t be broken, and the relationship between these two proves this. Spott told the National Post, “He’s my brother,” and “always will be.” So, can this bond win the Stanley Cup?