Vegas Golden Knights tab Gallant as their first coach

Vegas Golden Knights tab Gallant as their first coach

LAS VEGAS — Kicked off the bus by the Florida Panthers in November, Gerard Gallant has packed his bags for Las Vegas to take over as the first coach of the NHL expansion Golden Knights.

“I interviewed in mid-January and when I got the interview I felt real comfortable coming in here. I interviewed for a day and a half, and it was an unbelievable experience. When I left, this was the job I wanted,” Gallant said Thursday at his introductory news conference.

General manager George McPhee cited Gallant’s experience and past success in announcing the hiring following what he called an extensive search of candidates.

“I know how he coaches, I know all about his reputation. He has an outstanding reputation and knows how to get the best out of players,” McPhee said. “He is an experienced coach, has had success at multiple levels and has a great reputation amongst the players who have played for him. Experienced coaches are usually better with their second team. That was our goal.”

Gallant joins the Golden Knights some five months after being unceremoniously fired by the Panthers immediately following a 3-2 loss to the Hurricanes at Carolina. Gallant’s luggage was removed from the team bus outside the arena and he eventually had to take a taxi while the Panthers left him behind to continue their road trip to Chicago.

The abrupt firing came after the Panthers got off to an 11-10-1 start, and a year after Gallant was a coach-of-the-year finalist in just his second season in Florida. In 2015-16, the Panthers set a franchise record with 47 wins and 103 points to finish first in the Atlantic Division and secure their second playoff berth in 15 seasons.

Now Gallant heads from the South Florida beaches to the Las Vegas desert, where the Golden Knights prepare to open their inaugural season in October.

“When you get fired you’re down in the dumps a little bit and all of a sudden you get an interview and you’re excited again,” Gallant said. “I was very hopeful this day was going to happen. To get the call a couple of days ago and say, ‘You’re going to be the new coach’ was a good experience for me.”

The next step for Vegas will be adding its first 30 players through the expansion draft in June.

McPhee made it clear that the brass will build the team, and Gallant will coach the players being brought in.

“We’ll provide the players and Gerard coaches them,” McPhee said. “We’re not going to tell him how to coach, and I’m sure he’s not going to tell us how to find players.”

And that includes future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr, whom Gallant established a good relationship with in Florida, and who will be a free agent on July 1.

“Jaromir is an unbelievable hockey player, he’s an unbelievable person. He’s 45, he says he wants to play ’til he’s 50 and he’s a character person,” Gallant said. “Who knows what’s going to happen down the road. You need 23 guys, you need a team — it’s not about two or three players.”

Gallant was a standout left wing as a player, primarily for the Detroit Red Wings — scoring at least 34 goals in four straight seasons from 1986 through 1990 and finishing his NHL career with 211 goals in 615 games. He later was a head coach in Columbus and an assistant in Montreal, among other stops.

He also coached in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, where he oversaw the St. John (New Brunswick) Sea Dogs as they won consecutive league titles in 2011 and ’12, and a Memorial Cup championship in 2011.

___

AP freelancer W.G. Ramirez contributed to this report.

___

More AP NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

The Associated Press

Just Posted

Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association joins counter-protest

GVTA released statement of support for LGBTQ in response to upcoming protest

WATCH: Topaz Park open house scheduled for Saturday

This will be the final stage of public engagement for park design

UPDATED: Health Canada looking into B.C. boy’s treatment of rabid dog saliva

BC Naturopathic Association questions Dr. Anke Zimmermann’s conduct on recent treatments

BCSPCA’s proposed limits on chickens go too far: urban food advocate

Capping the number of hens at 12 an unnecessary solution, Aaren Topley tells Victoria council

Cops corral pig on the loose in Cordova Bay

Pig was trotting towards Pat Bay Highway from Cordova Ridge

Manak calls Const. Ian Jordan fallen hero

Late Victoria cop mourned at funeral by officers from numerous local, out-of-town jurisdictions

VIDEO: Smokers talk pot rules at annual 4-20 event

Annual pot protest-meets-festival in Vancouver attracted hundreds to vendors, concert

Spring Home Show this weekend in Colwood

West Shore Parks and Recreation will be transformed to showcase everything home related

Saanich’s Shew sisters win gold, silver at national wrestling championships

Kiana, 17, won gold while Zena, 14, won silver at nationals

New funds, recruits set to alleviate B.C. sheriff shortage

The Government of British Columbia announced new sheriff graduates, funding for more classes

Video: RCMP investigation gets a deer little photobomb

Princeton RCMP were conducting a drug investigation in Princeton which a deer strolled through

Farnworth says five years too long for feds to deal with organized crime in medical pot

Needs to be dealt with much sooner than that, B.C. Public Safety Minister says

Unions set for national strike against CP Rail

Locomotive engineers, conductors and signals specialists seeking new collective agreements.

B.C. woman known to hitchhike around province missing

Aislynn Hanson, 18, last seen April 13; known to travel throughout B.C. by hitchhiking

Most Read