Many wanted to shoehorn the Panthers firing Gerard Gallant into the longer, seemingly endless debate pitting new-school analytic types against old-school hockey guys.
But this wasn’t that.
In November, GM and current head coach Tom Rowe said it was more about a “philosophical divide” that went well beyond numbers.
In speaking with ESPN over the weekend, Gallant reiterated much of the same.
“I wasn’t fired because of analytics,” Gallant said. “I loved coaching the Florida Panthers and I’m a stubborn guy at times, maybe I said a little too much, maybe I gave my opinion a little bit too much.
“Maybe when they asked for my opinion, I have an honest opinion and sometimes it doesn’t help you. Maybe it wasn’t always what they wanted to hear.”
That last bit is probably the most important. Because Gallant certainly wasn’t afraid to express himself.
Last summer, not long after being named a Jack Adams finalist as coach of the year, he responded to Florida’s organizational overhaul by saying he was “definitely a little bit surprised” by all the changes made.
He also seemed consistently at odds with the club’s diminishing size and toughness element. That came to a head a week prior to his firing, when he sounded off after a game in which the Flyers took liberties with a few different Panthers skaters.
The Panthers had no suitable enforcer to respond Tuesday when Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds got feisty or when Radko Gudas flattened Vincent Trocheck with a headshot. Gallant said he regretted not having Thornton available.
“You always think that when things happen to your team. It’s frustrating to see that happen, especially in your own building,” Gallant said. “The Simmonds situation and then the Gudas hit on Trocheck, you’d like a response on that.
“But when you don’t have personnel to put out there for that it shows.”
Rowe referenced this in explaining why Gallant was let go.
“We wanted to develop a team and build a team that was fast, that moved the puck quickly, attack the offensive net and pressure the puck in all three zones,” he said. “Gerard and I talked about it, he said he wanted to get a little more size.
“And we decided to go in a different direction.”