Brian Campbell was ‘pretty surprised’ that his old coach, Gerard Gallant, got fired


Count Brian Campbell among those shocked to learn of Gerard Gallant’s firing in Florida.

“Surprise. Probably a lot like everyone else, it seems, was pretty surprised at what happened,” the former Florida defenseman told reporters Monday in Chicago, where his Blackhawks will host the Panthers tonight.

“Gerard’s a great guy. I liked him. I thought he did a good job there. So yeah, I was surprised, shocked. I don’t know what else to say.”

Campbell played two seasons under Gallant, including last season when the Panthers finished with 103 points and Gallant was a finalist for coach of the year.

But as we’ve come to learn, Gallant did not see eye-to-eye with management on certain fundamental issues. On Monday, interim coach Tom Rowe spoke of a “philosophical divide” that existed between Gallant and the front office.

“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,” said Rowe, who will relinquish his duties as general manager to focus on coaching. “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.”

Rowe, 60, played 357 NHL games as a forward. He’s also been a head coach in the AHL and KHL, and an assistant coach for three seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes. So it’s not like he lacks experience.

But it remains to be seen how the Panthers will respond to the coaching change. Based on Campbell’s remarks, Gallant was a popular figure among his former players. Can Rowe get better results? He’s well aware that he needs to deliver.

“At the end of the day we’ve got to get this team on track. We think we have a very good team,” Rowe said, per the Sun-Sentinel. “It’s an unbelievable opportunity. We got great hockey players and I think anybody would be excited about the opportunity. I know what’s at stake. I know the money that’s been spent on this team; I know the commitment from ownership to the front office, the coaches and the players.”

Welcome to the pressure of coaching in the NHL.

Related: The plan in Florida is “multiple Stanley Cups”

Toews to miss third straight game, questionable for Thursday


Jonathan Toews will miss a third straight game tonight when his Chicago Blackhawks host the Florida Panthers.

Toews suffered an upper-body injury Wednesday in San Jose. He missed Friday’s 3-2 victory in Anaheim, and also Saturday’s 2-1 OT loss in Los Angeles.

Head coach Joel Quenneville said Toews is questionable for Thursday’s home game against New Jersey.

Chicago’s captain did not skate this morning.

“As soon as you see him on the ice, you’ve got an idea that he’s close to playing,” Quenneville said, per John Dietz of the Daily Herald.


Barzal, Strome, Patrick among invitees to Canada’s World Juniors camp


Mathew BarzalDylan Strome, Nolan Patrick, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Tyson Jost, Sam Steel, Jake Bean and Thomas Chabot are among the recognizable names that have been invited  to Canada’s World Juniors selection camp in Blainville, Quebec, from Dec. 10-14.

Canada is hosting the 2017 tournament (in Montreal and Toronto), hoping to bounce back after getting knocked out in the quarterfinals by Finland in 2016.

Patrick, likely to be selected first overall in the 2017 NHL draft, is the youngest invitee. The 18-year-old forward is currently out with an upper-body injury, so his participation at the camp remains in question.

Click here for the full camp roster.


Isles return Barzal to junior club

Coyotes send Dylan Strome back to junior

Draft-day shocker: Blue Jackets take Dubois over Puljujarvi

Overtime is ‘killing’ the Dallas Stars

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The Dallas Stars lost in overtime last night.

This is not a recording.

But it could’ve been, because last night’s 4-3 loss in St. Louis was the sixth time this season that the Stars (9-8-6) have fallen in sudden death, against just one victory.

“Overtime is killing us right now,” captain Jamie Benn told reporters after Vladimir Tarasenko won it for the Blues.

The Stars’ six OT losses are the most in the NHL. New Jersey is next with four, followed by three teams — Columbus, Anaheim and Carolina — with three.

Granted, the Stars may have been fortunate to get even a single point last night. They were outshot 31-21 by the the Blues, who had a 3-2 lead before Jamie Oleksiak tied it with 50 seconds left in regulation.

But we’ve seen in the past how costly too many overtime losses can be. In 2014-15, the defending champion Los Angeles Kings missed the playoffs by two points after finishing 1-7 in OT (and 2-8 in the shootout).

The Stars currently occupy the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference; however, they’re just one point up on the Predators, who have two games in hand.

Rutherford admits Penguins’ goalie situation not ideal


Marc-Andre Fleury has had a rough November. After allowing six goals to Minnesota on Friday, his save percentage for the month fell to .889.

Sharing the net with Matt Murray, Fleury just hasn’t been able to get into a groove. And that’s a problem, admits his general manager.

“Despite the fact I like having the two top goalies, it’s difficult when both goalies are used to playing the majority of the games,” Jim Rutherford told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Monday. “You get into weeks where they’re splitting and going every other game. That hasn’t worked, at this point, as well as I thought it would.”

Read more: Five goalies off to surprisingly tough starts

Murray, for the record, has been just fine. The 22-year-old has a .939 save percentage since returning from a broken hand.

But Rutherford’s remarks will only serve to further the speculation about a potential trade.

From the Post-Gazette:

The Penguins can only protect one goalie in the expansion draft and, at this point, it would have to be Fleury, because his contract includes a no-movement clause. He could be asked to waive that clause, although there’s no indication such a request has been made.

Rutherford declined to say whether other teams have inquired about trading for Fleury or Murray, and said the Penguins’ inconsistent play through 22 games is not reason to make a major personnel move.

It seems unlikely that a trade would occur now, just a quarter of the way through the season. Fleury is signed through 2018-19 for a cap hit of $5.75 million; his contract would take some maneuvering to move.

But this story won’t be going away. Even without the expansion draft, the Penguins would have one starting goalie too many. It’s not the worst problem to have, but it’s a situation that will require a resolution by June 17 at the latest.

Related: Don’t assume Fleury will be traded, says Penguins GM