The Florida Panthers have found their man to lead the team.
The team announced they’ve hired Gerard Gallant to be the new head coach. He was an assistant coach for Michel Therrien with the Montreal Canadiens the past two seasons and is a former Columbus Blue Jackets head coach.
Panthers GM Dale Tallon had glowing words for Gallant in the team’s press release.
“We are pleased to welcome Gerard as the new head coach of the Florida Panthers,” said Tallon. “He is an individual with tremendous character, integrity and a strong passion for the game and has experience as an NHL head coach. Gerard is an excellent teacher and motivator who possesses the leadership qualities and hockey knowledge that are necessary to lead our team.”
The Panthers chose Gallant out of a field of hopefuls that included recent Carolina Hurricanes hire Bill Peters, former Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, and former Stanley Cup winner Marc Crawford among others. Crawford just verbally agreed to return to his job in Switzerland.
Gallant has a lot of experience behind the bench as both an assistant and a head coach.
He worked as an assistant for three seasons in Columbus before ascending to the top job for parts of three more seasons. He’s also been an assistant with the New York Islanders as well as the Habs.
More importantly for the current Panthers roster, he was head coach of the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL and led them to back-to-back Memorial Cup titles. His best player on those teams? Panthers young stud forward Jonathan Huberdeau.
Gallant has a very young roster to work with in Florida headed up by Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, and Erik Gudbranson. He’ll have his hands full in getting this green team together and trying to get back to the playoffs.
The team will formally introduce Gallant at a press conference on Monday.
Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman, and impending unrestricted free agent, Matt Niskanen has a lot of questions to answer about where he’ll play next season and years to come soon.
The question of whether Niskanen will remain in Pittsburgh or not was already up in the air before coach Dan Bylsma was fired. So where does he stand after that? As Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review shares, he’s in wait-and-see mode.
“Dan being dismissed won’t affect my decision,” Niskanen said. “However, I will pay attention to what the coaching staff is going to look like. It’s not the only factor in the decision. But it is a factor.”
Regardless of who the new coach is, Niskanen may already be ticketed out of town.
The Penguins already have a lot of big money committed to Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang. With the salary cap going up to possibly over $70 million, the kind of deal Niskanen could command in free agency would be worth big bucks. The Penguins have other needs to address and other teams have holes on the blue line to fill.
Unless the new coach is someone Niskanen knows and loves, he’ll likely be in a different uniform next season.
Former Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma has been without a job for almost a full day and his list of suitors continues to grow.
You can add Vancouver Canucks General Manager Jim Benning to the list of people taking a shine to Bylsma. As Iain MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun shares, he has his hands full getting settled into his own new job but Disco Dan is on his radar.
“We’ve been in meetings all day, so we haven’t had a chance to really sit down and talk about it,” Benning said Friday afternoon of Bylsma’s sudden availability. “But he’s an interesting name, for sure.”
The Canucks have been in search of a new coach since they fired John Tortorella following the season. After such a poor and disappointing season, they’re in need of a new and better direction. Bylsma suddenly being available changes things up.
It was believed Willie Desjardins, head coach of the AHL Texas Stars, was one of the leading candidates for the Canucks job, but the Stars are in the Calder Cup Finals so he hasn’t been available to interview. Now with Bylsma available and Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon already taking a shine to him, the Canucks may be pressed for time to make a decision.