In a move that would have made Jerry Springer proud, the Florida Panthers have kicked head coach Gerard Gallant to the curb. After the Panthers lost 3-2 to the Carolina Hurricanes, Gallant was literally shown the door to the PNC Arena and was seen unemployed and waiting for a taxi. Assistant coach Mike Kelly was also dismissed.
This is a cowardly ignominious move by the Panthers organisation. The Panthers may currently be fifth in the Atlantic division, but we’re 22 games into an 82 game season. Gallant took the team to the playoffs last season with a franchise best 103 points. The guy was a finalist for the Jack Adams trophy.
Current Panthers GM Tom Rowe steps in as interim head coach. It’s not even like Gallant was a scapegoat taking flack for poor performance. The Panthers are playing reasonably well considering they’ve been dealing with injuries to key players.
Gallant and the Panthers’ front office had a “philosophical divide”, according to
Aristotle Rowe, presumably while sharpening another set of knives. “It’s a different year, and expectations are higher than they were in the year before” said Dale Tallon, reading from his book of managerial quotes. He may have then said something about thinking outside of boxes, shifting paradigms and blue sky thinking.
Seriously Panthers? Every team has higher expectations than before. That’s how everything works. The Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup last season, but they can still perform better. Carey Price is the best goalie in the league, but he could still be better. Congratulations on recognising that having goals and aims are actually important, but firing Gallant was just wrong. It was baffling, and you look like clowns for having done it.
You’re right in as much as a team can always improve, but that’s why you replace a coach with a better coach! Tom Rowe has never been a head coach in the NHL. This isn’t one step forward, it’s two steps back. This is just steps back.
Talking about Florida’s new interim head coach, CEO and President Matthew Caldwell said Rowe was ‘the only choice’. This smacks of a Florida Panthers
boys club front office looking for a way to oust a head coach whose focus lay in a different direction. Gallant is old-school and has the support of his players. The Panthers are a team with a big drive on analytics and Gallant didn’t fit the model. Regardless of whether Gallant shunned #fancystats or not, the Panthers have the 10th best 5 on 5 Corsi in the league (51.6%). So whatever the front office are looking at, I don’t see it.
96-65-25. That’s Gallant’s record with the Panthers. This is not about performance. Hockey insiders were predicting this move months ago. There’s a whole other story behind this and it’ll take a while before we get all of it. In the meantime the Panthers need to go and take a long look in the mirror. All you’ve done is fired two good coaches, although you’ve freed Gallant up for the Vegas Golden Knights head coach role.