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.