Source: Sharks fire DeBoer after listless start

8:03 PM ET

  • Greg WyshynskiESPN

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      Greg Wyshynski is ESPN’s senior NHL writer.

With a high payroll and even higher expectations, the San Jose Sharks fired head coach Pete DeBoer on Wednesday after an underwhelming first third of their season, a source confirmed.

Bob Boughner, an assistant coach with the Sharks, takes over on an interim basis, sources confirmed to ESPN. The team also let go assistant coaches Dave Barr, Steve Spott and goalie coach Johan Hedberg.

DeBoer’s firing was a hockey-related decision based on the team’s on-ice performance, according to sources and not related to commissioner Gary Bettman saying on Monday that the league won’t tolerate abusive coaches following the recent resignation of Calgary coach Bill Peters.

DeBoer’s firing was first reported by Sportsnet.

The Sharks are 15-16-2 for 32 points on the season, sitting five points out of the final wild card spot and six points behind third place in the Pacific Division. Their .485 points percentage is the fourth-lowest in the conference.

San Jose has been wildly inconsistent this season, with winless streaks of four games and five games twice, including the current skid that ended DeBoer’s tenure. The Sharks went on the road for four games and lost all four of them, collecting only a single point in a shootout loss to Carolina. They were outscored 23-7 during this five-game streak.

Defense and discipline have been the primary problems for the Sharks. The team has the fourth-worst save percentage in the NHL (.887) and has allowed the second-most goals with 113. The Sharks average 12.6 penalty minutes per game, which leads the NHL.

DeBoer was in his fifth season as head coach, with a 198-129-34 record. He led the team to the 2016 Western Conference championship in his first season In San Jose, and coached them to a conference final loss to St. Louis last season.

DeBoer’s firing marks the fifth coaching change in the NHL this season and the third one this month. Alain Nasreddine took over for John Hynes in New Jersey on Dec. 3 and Rick Bowness was announced as the interim coach when Dallas fired Jim Montgomery on Tuesday for “unprofessional conduct.”

Boughner is a former NHL defenseman who played for six teams over a 10-year period. He was the head coach of the Florida Panthers from 2017-19, and was replaced by Joel Quenneville last summer.

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