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.
Remember when the new owners of the Florida Panthers asked Broward County for money because they claimed to be losing $20-$30 million annually? Politicians there reportedly support the plan to help out the franchise.
Brittany Wallman of the Sun Sentinel reports six out of eight Broward County commissioners support a plan to give money to the team to help make sure the team stays in South Florida. The Panthers are asking for an extra $80 million.
Team co-owner Douglas Cifu said the money is needed because they’re bleeding money even worse than what was previously assessed.
“We’re losing $100,000 a day,” said Cifu. “So where I sit, time is of the essence.”
The one good thing going for the Panthers is they have one of the best lease deals in the NHL. Concerts and other events at BB&T Center are making money for the team and the deal runs through 2028.
Working against the Panthers is the amount of debt left to pay on the arena, totaling around $225 million. The team is looking to get a break on payments against that through money taken from tourist taxes that have produced more money than they expected over the years.
When the Florida Panthers hosted the Ottawa Senators at BB&T Center in Sunrise Tuesday night, they did so in front of a lightly-attended crowd.
The announced attendance of 10,074 was the franchise’s lowest number since Halloween 2008 when they drew 10,063 to a game against then division-rival Carolina.
As George Richards of the Miami Herald shares via Twitter, that number may have been a bit higher than what actually attended the game.
You have to wonder what new owner Vincent Viola thinks of all this.
Of course, the Panthers haven’t had much success in recent years. Aside from their Southeast Division title in 2012, playoffs have been an extreme rarity in South Florida. As we’ve seen just about everywhere that isn’t Canada, missing the playoffs every year takes its toll on attendance.