Gerard Gallant Named Florida Panthers New Head Coach

Panthers owner ‘didn’t need to see anyone else’ after interviewing Gallant

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When Gerard Gallant landed the head coaching job with the Florida Panthers, he left a major impression on the team’s owner.

Panthers Vice Chairman Douglas Cifu spoke about the process with Jameson Olive of Fox Sports Florida and said the former Columbus Blue Jackets coach hit a home run in his interview with owner Vincent Viola.

“We asked Dale to screen a dozen or so candidates and send up to Virtu in New York the top 5-6 finalist,” Cifu said. “Gerard was the first candidate to come for a visit. He spent 30 minutes with Vinnie and Vinnie said, ‘He’s the guy, don’t need to see anyone else.'”

If you don’t recall, the Panthers had a coaching wish-list that included five or six other men. Having Gallant hit it out of the park right away says a lot about him. Now the team hopes he can have as much of an instant impact on the players as he did on the owners.

Cifu said he was equally impressed by Gallant who left his position as an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens to join the Panthers. He was last a NHL head coach in 2006-07 with the Jackets.

Gallant had spent three seasons as the coach of the St. John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major-Junior Hockey League from 2009-2012 where he coached Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau. The young star is excited about having the coach that led him to two Memorial Cups with him in Sunrise.

Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

(In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.

Video: Wideman hearing ‘a tricky case’ as NHLPA hopes to get 20-game suspension reduced

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There is no certain timeline for when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might rule on Dennis Wideman‘s appeal, according to a report from hockey insider Darren Dreger on NBCSN, as the Calgary Flames defenseman hopes to get his 20-game ban for hitting linesman Don Henderson reduced.

“Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.

“Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”

Report: Coyotes shut down Vitale (concussion) for the season

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Joe Vitale will not play again this season.

The Arizona Coyotes have shut Vitale down for the remainder of the 2015-16 campaign due to “concussion-related issues,” according to a report from Sarah McLellan of azcentral sports on Wednesday.

Vitale, a 30-year-old veteran center, appeared in only one game for the Coyotes this season. That was back on Oct. 17, when he suffered a concussion and broken orbital bone in a fight with Kevan Miller of the Boston Bruins.

Sens announce Frattin, acquired in Phaneuf deal, will stick with AHL Marlies

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Matt Frattin was traded by the Leafs to Ottawa yesterday as part of the Dion Phaneuf blockbuster.

But for now, he’s staying in Toronto.

On Wednesday, Sens GM Bryan Murray announced that Frattin will remain with the Leafs’ AHL affiliate — the Toronto Marlies — on loan, but will be available for selection should Ottawa require his services down the road.

Frattin, 28, has spent all of this season with the Marlies, scoring nine goals and 22 points in 47 games. His last NHL appearance came during the ’14-15 campaign, with the Leafs.

Prior to that, the former North Dakota standout had spent time in Los Angeles and Columbus.