The press conference to make it official is not scheduled until Monday, but the Florida Panthers decided to let the cat out of the bag today and announced Gerard Gallant as their new head coach. Gallant last held the head coach position with the Columbus Blue Jackets from 2003 to 2007. From 2009 to 2012, Gallant was head coach of the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs, where he led the Sea Dogs to three first-place finishes, three league final appearances, two QMJHL championships, and one Memorial Cup. He has spent the last two seasons serving as an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens.
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) June 21, 2014
In a team press release, Panthers Executive Vice President and General Manager, Dale Tallon had this to say about the hiring of Gallant:
We are pleased to welcome Gerard as the new head coach of the Florida Panthers. He is an individual with tremendous character, integrity and a strong passion for the game and has experience as an NHL head coach. Gerard is an excellent teacher and motivator who possesses the leadership qualities and hockey knowledge that are necessary to lead our team.
Gallant will have at least one familiar face in the Florida locker room. Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau played three years (one as captain) under Gallant in St. Johns. Huberdeau won the Calder Trophy in 2013, but experienced a sophomore slump during the 2013-14 season. Florida is hoping the young forward will get back into form under the guidance of his former coach.
While former Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma was also rumored to be in the running for the Florida head coaching spot, Gallant was the favorite to get the job throughout the interview process. Bylsma was regarded as too expensive for the Panthers. Even though Tallon highlights Gallants experience and his qualities as a teacher of the game, there is not hiding that the Panthers had to go with the discount option.
A formal introduction of Gallant as the Panthers new head coach is scheduled for Monday at 11 AM EST.