Here are some reactions from around the hockey world regarding yesterday’s surprising firing of Florida head coach Gerard Gallant:
- The move to let Gallant and assistant coach Mike Kelly go showed the differing viewpoints between management and the coaches, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman writes. GM Tom Rowe, now the interim coach for the remainder of the season, is very analytically-inclined which led to a lot of changes being made over the offseason, especially on the back end where Willie Mitchell and Erik Gudbranson, a pair of physical, stay-at-home players, being replaced by less physical but more skilled defenders. That shift in philosophy didn’t sit well with Gallant, a coach who values grit in the lineup, something he was vocal about having more of just last week.
- While there are no other current head coaching vacancies in the NHL, TSN’s Frank Seravalli wonders if Gallant would be a favorite to take over the Vegas Golden Knights next season. Vegas GM George McPhee noted last week that they weren’t planning to name their head coach this soon but that they would keep tabs on whoever was to become available during the year.
- ESPN’s Joe MacDonald argues that Florida’s slower start (11-10-1) shouldn’t be placed entirely at the feet of Gallant. The Panthers have been without left winger Jonathan Huberdeau – who was tied for third in team scoring last year – for the entire season while Nick Bjugstad has played in just three games. Plus, the team realistically was going to take some time to adjust to all of the changes made over the offseason. MacDonald also questions who is calling the shots in Florida, Rowe, or new owner Vinnie Viola and suggests that Rowe taking over will have a negative effect in the end.
- TSN’s Travis Yost takes a closer look at the numbers and suggests that the team is “screamingly average” and one that was degrading over time. He notes that the Panthers were relying too much on goaltenders Roberto Luongo and James Reimer while Aaron Ekblad’s early season struggles on the back end also played a big role in the team hovering around the .500 mark.
With regards to the remainder of their coaching staff – Goalie Coach Robb Tallas, Associate Coach Dave Barr, and Assistant Coach Scott Allen, they all will remain with the team, reports Harvey Fialkov of the Sun Sentinel. TSN’s Bob McKenzie adds (via Twitter) that no other coaches will be brought in at this time.
As for Rowe, while he will officially retain his General Manager title while he serves as the interim head coach, McKenzie notes that they will use a management-by-committee strategy with Assistant GMs Eric Joyce and Steve Werier along with former GM and current Team President Dale Tallon (links to Twitter).