Gallant ‘definitely was a little bit surprised’ by turnover in Florida


Gerard Gallant led the Panthers to the best regular season in franchise history in ’15-16, and was nominated for the Jack Adams as coach of the year.

So you’ll excuse him for being a tad shocked at this summer’s organizational overhaul.

“You’d like to have your team back as a coach but at the same time there’s salary-cap issues that come into play,’’  Gallant said, per the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “It’s different than it used to be before. I definitely was a little bit surprised, but overall we got a pretty good club.”

Changes happened everywhere in Florida this offseason.

On the ice, defensemen Brian Campbell, Dmitry Kulikov and Erik Gudbranson departed, replaced by Keith Yandle, Mark Pysyk and Jason Demers.

In goal, backup Al Montoya left in free agency, replaced by James Reimer and Reto Berra.

Behind the bench, assistant John Madden was turfed, with Dave Barr and Scott Allen brought in.

In the front office, longtime GM Dale Tallon was “promoted” to team president, with Tom Rowe assuming Tallon’s old post. Rowe then added a pair of assistant GMs, and the scouting staff was also overhauled.

The moves made for pretty divisive views. In one camp, there’s the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” people, who fail to understand why ownership would so profoundly tinker with a 103-point team.

In the other camp, there’s the “don’t settle, always strive to improve” people, who think the Panthers’ moves have put them in a better position to challenge for the Stanley Cup.

Based on his remarks, it sounds like Gallant is part of the latter group. Sure, he liked his team last year, but it sounds like he really likes what his team could be this year.

“I wanted us to be a better team and we are going to be a better team,’’ he said. “On paper I think we are, but you got to do it on the ice. There’s some good players we signed. They’re puck-moving guys and skilled guys.

“I’m not taking anything away from last year’s 103 points. We were a really good team that took big steps.”