Gerard Gallant, who has spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach to Michel Therrien, is leaving the Canadiens to become head coach of the Florida Panthers.
Panthers general manager Dale Tallon announced on Saturday afternoon that Gallant will replace interim head coach Peter Horacek behind the Florida bench. Horacek got the job after Kevin Dineen was fired last November.
“Obviously we are disappointed to see an individual like Gerard Gallant leave our
organization, but on behalf of the management team and the entire coaching staff I would like to wish Gerard the best of luck as the new head coach of the Florida Panthers,” Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin said in a statement Saturday afternoon. “Over the past two years, Gerard has been a valuable asset for us and contributed to the success of our team.”
Tweeted Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban: “Congrats to Gerard Gallant on the new coaching job! Very deserving! One of the best I’ve had!”
The Panthers (29-45-8) had the second-worst record in the NHL last season. Only the Buffalo Sabres (21-51-10) were worse. The Panthers won the draft lottery and will have the No. 1 pick at the June 27 draft in Philadelphia.
Said Tallon in a statement: “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 be introduced the the Florida media at a news conference on Monday.
Gallant spent parts of three seasons as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, starting in 2003-04. He has also been an assistant coach with the New York Islanders. The 50-year-old spent three seasons as head coach of the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs, winning the league championship in 2011 and 2012 and the Memorial Cup in 2011. Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau played for Gallant in junior.
The NHL announced on Saturday that the 2014-15 season will open on Wednesday, Oct. 8, with the Canadiens playing the Maple Leafs in Toronto that night.The league announced the home openers for all 30 teams, with the complete schedule to be released on Sunday. The Canadiens will visit Washington for the Capitals’ home opener on Oct. 9 and play their own home opener at the Bell Centre on Thursday, Oct. 16 against the Boston Bruins.
The Canadiens will have an eight-game preseason schedule that will start with a Red vs. White game on Monday, Sept. 22 at the Bell Centre. The Bruins will visit the Bell Centre the next night.
(Photo by John Kenney/The Gazette)