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Devils fire head coach Peter DeBoer 77

In a surprise move, the New Jersey Devils relieved head coach Peter DeBoer of his duties this morning. DeBoer had spent the last three-plus years behind the bench in New Jersey, posting a solid 114-93-41 record, with one Stanley Cup Finals appearance (2011-12, when New Jersey lost in five games to the Los Angeles Kings).

Though the Devils are currently seventh out of eight teams in the Metropolitan Division, this move is still something of a shock. New Jersey has had recent success under DeBoer. DeBoer has also been saddled with one of the oldest rosters in the league – the Devils’ current forward group features the likes of Jaromir Jagr (42), Patrik Elias (38), Martin Havlat (33), Scott Gomez (35) and Michael Ryder (34) – as well as no goalie depth, forcing him to overwork Cory Schneider (who made 20 straight starts earlier this season). Then there was also the surprise departure of star forward Ilya Kovalchuk two years ago, which took away the best offensive player the Devils had – a presence they have yet to be able to replace.

Its been a tough December for NHL coaches. Dallas Eakins (Edmonton Oilers) and Paul MacLean were also fired by their respective teams. Interestingly enough, MacLean is rumored to be the new Devils coach, though there has been no official confirmation on that front.

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