Thursday: Gallant was supposed to coach the Pacific Division All-Star team at this month’s event, but will be replaced by Rick Tocchet of the Arizona Coyotes.
Wednesday: In shocking news this morning, the Vegas Golden Knights have decided to fire the first coach in franchise history, Gerard Gallant, and replace him with Peter DeBoer. Gallant’s assistant Mike Kelly has also been relieved of his duties. General manager Kelly McCrimmon released a statement on the move:
In order for our team to reach its full potential, we determined a coaching change was necessary. Our team is capable of more than we have demonstrated this season. We would like to thank Gerard and Mike for their service to the Vegas Golden Knights. They were both instrumental to the success we have enjoyed in our first two-plus seasons and we wish them all the best moving forward. In Peter DeBoer, we have a proven, experienced head coach who we believe can help us achieve our ultimate goal. We are excited to welcome Peter and his family to the Vegas Golden Knights organization. We look forward to a strong finish to the 2019-20 season with Peter at the helm and a successful tenure in the seasons to come.
Gallant was hired to lead the Golden Knights into their first season in 2017, and did more with a roster of misfits and castoffs than anyone expected. The expansion club got off to a fast start and never looked back, riding strong goaltending and breakout performances all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. Though they would lose in five games to the Washington Capitals, a 51-24-7 season was considered an unparalleled success for the expansion franchise and proved that Vegas was already a contender in the Western Conference.
That expectation of success only continued last season, when the Golden Knights once again made the playoffs with a 43-32-7 record. While that was a step backwards, the team still had 93 points and was within a goal of going to the second round after a brutal loss to the San Jose Sharks. This season saw more of that success, though a four-game losing streak now has the Golden Knights sitting just outside the playoff picture, tied with the Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets but having played two more games.
Perhaps it is that losing streak that did him in, as Gallant’s dismissal has been called completely “performance based.” The team has regressed in terms of points percentage since they started, but how much you can blame that on the coach is unclear. It’ll be DeBoer’s opportunity to show that he can turn things around, with a third of the season still remaining.
Speaking of DeBoer, he gets a new job after only being fired himself a month ago. The former Sharks bench boss is back in business after being let go earlier this season, and will start in with his fourth team. The two-time Stanley Cup finalist has never won the ultimate prize, but does have a .550 winning percentage across 855 career games behind the bench.