Mike Kelly and Mark Morris join Gerard Gallant and John Madden behind the bench

Monday afternoon, the Florida Panthers announced that they have hired two assistant coaches to join head coach Gerard Gallant and current assistant coach John Madden behind the Panthers bench. The new additions are Mike Kelly, former head coach and general manager of the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs, and Mark Morris, former head coach of the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs.

Kelly 54, joins the Panthers coaching staff after spending four seasons with the Saint John Sea Dogs as Gallant’s associate coach during Saint Johns infamous dynasty years. After Gallant left the QMJHL to join Michel Therrien and the Montreal Canadiens in 2012, Kelly was promoted to general manager and head coach of the Sea Dogs for one season before being relieved of his duties in 2013.

Before joining the Sea Dogs in 2009, Kelly had already gotten a taste of the pro leagues, where he was an assistant coach for both the Mantioba Moose of the AHL and Vancouver Canucks of the NHL.

Morris, 56, is no stranger to the pro leagues either as he spent 8 season’s with the Manchester Monarch’s, making him the longest tenure coach in franchise history. During his time in Manchester, Morris had coached a handful of notable players such as Jonathan Quick, Matt Moulson, Jake Muzzin and Brayden Schenn.

In 628 games behind the Monarch’s bench, Morris compiled 338 wins, which is 10th all-time in AHL wins for a coach, just two behind current NHL head coach Bruce Boudreau.

Along with retaining current assistant coach John Madden, the Panthers have re-signed goalie coach Robb Tallas.

 

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Why Gerard Gallant Makes Sense As The Florida Panthers Head Coach

After nearly two months of speculation, and countless interviews with potential candidates, Dale Tallon and the Florida Panthers announced on Saturday that Gerard Gallant will be the next head coach of the club. Gallant was among a long list of suitors wishing to become the 13th coach in 21 seasons for Florida, and according to Dale Tallon, Gallant is exactly who he wanted.  This quote from the blog post of Panthers beat writer George Richards describes briefly why this was Tallon’s choice:

“This was a very extensive search,” Tallon said on Saturday afternoon.

“It was a very informative and very successful search. We’re all very excited about this. He has a reputation for integrity and his passion for the game is beyond reproach. Ownership feels the same way I do.”

Gallant played in 615 games during his NHL career, most with the Detroit Red Wings, except for fifty-two games with the Tampa Bay Lightning.  For those of you who watched him play, you’ll remember the type of player he was.  Hard working, strong skating, a nose for the net, and never afraid to mix it up.  Gallant played for the Red Wings during a time when Detroit was in a fiercely competitive division with teams like the Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota North Stars and St. Louis Blues.  Those Norris division matchups required teams to play tough, and Gallant was certainly no exception to that rule, as this video will attest to.  Adding to his toughness, Gallant could score goals as well, putting up five consecutive seasons of 20 or more goals, including four consecutive seasons of more than 30.  If Gallant can infuse this work ethic, and determination into the Florida Panthers roster, the Panthers will no longer be a pushover.
Gallant has also been highly praised for his work with younger players.  The Panthers are loaded with youth, some of whom are taking their first steps in the NHL, and some who will be up and coming over the next couple seasons.  Jonathan Huberdeau will likely be the first Panther player to welcome Gallant with open arms.  Huberdeau had 105 points in 67 games playing for Gallant as a member of the Saint John Sea Dogs in 2010-2011.  As we all know, Huberdeau suffered the definition of a sophomore slump last season, and Gallant’s hiring should have a positive affect on the budding star player.
While many would determine that Gallant didn’t accomplish much while he was the head coach in Columbus, you’d likely be correct in saying that.  However if you take a look at the rosters he was forced to deal with, it’s very unlikely that even a Scotty Bowman in his prime could have done much better.  Everyone deserves a second chance, and Gallant after coaching the Blue Jackets for 142 games over parts of three seasons, and serving as an assistant with two NHL teams, sandwiched around is stint in the QMJHL, has surely paid his dues.  He comes to the Panthers hungry to win, wiser because of his experience, and ready to change the “country club” atmosphere that has plagued this organization on and off for the past dozen seasons if not more.
People in Montreal were quick to express their well wishes for Gallant, and have made many comments that were not only appreciative, but positive, as it appears that Gallant will be sorely missed.  Gallant was known for his solid communication skills, his passion for the game which he was able to translate as a motivator and teacher.  In addition to those attributes his tactical skills were a major reason for the success that Montreal enjoyed this season.  Hats off to Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin for allowing Dale Tallon to speak with Gallant, giving him another chance as a head coach.
The Panthers are in need of everything that Gallant brings to the table.  During his career Gallant accumulated over 1600 minutes in penalties, and despite his smaller size (only 5′-10″), he insisted on stepping up for his team, and never back down from some heavyweights such as Marty McSorely, and Brad May.  Gallant’s nickname is Turk.  You may use that at your own risk.
With the proper mixture of veterans that hopefully will be acquired this offseason, Gallant seems to be a solid choice to raise the level of play here in South Florida, and have a team that works for 60 minutes each and every game.

Thanks for reading and we welcome your thoughts in the comments section below!

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Gerard Gallant’s QMJHL Success Bodes Well for Panthers’ Future

After an extensive coaching search that began in late April, former Montreal Canadiens assistant Gerard Gallant has been named the Florida Panthers’ new head coach, the team announced today.

“We are pleased to welcome Gerard as the new head coach of the Florida Panthers,” General Manager Dale Tallon said in the team’s official press release. “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 becomes the 13th head coach in franchise history, replacing interim coach Peter Horachek who was relieved of his duties on April 29.

Over nearly a two-month span, the Panthers conducted a coaching search worthy of its own reality television show as the team interviewed as many as 12 candidates before deciding on Gallant. In winning the job, Gallant beat out former Penguins coach Dan Bylsma and former Avalanche coach Marc Crawford who were both considered to be finalists for the position.

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Panthers Announce Gerard Gallant as Head Coach

After countless months, days and hours, the Florida Panthers have finally narrowed their coaching search down to one man.

On Saturday afternoon, the Panthers announced Gerard Gallant as the franchise’s 13th head coach in almost 21 years.

Gallant, 50, has over 600 games of NHL experience as an assistant and head coach with Columbus Blue Jackets, as well as an assistant coach with the New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens.

After his 3-year stint as a head coach with the Blue Jackets, Gallant took an opportunity with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL, where he coached Jonathan Huberdeau and the Sea Dogs to three consecutive President Cup Final’s, and a Memorial Cup Final. After winning two President Cups and a Memorial Cup, Gallant was inducted into the QMJHL hall-of-fame.

Having worked with young kids for several years, Gallant is walking into a familiar situation as the Panthers have 10 players under 25 years old, as well as this year’s 1st overall pick in the NHL draft.

 

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Dan Bylsma Watch: Panthers Interview Former Penguins Head Coach

As soon as the Pittsburgh Penguins announced the hiring of new General Manager Jim Rutherford, all eyes and ears of Panthers faithful were waiting for the inevitable news that Dan Bylsma has been relieved of his coaching duties.

For days, it has been rumored that the Florida Panthers may have interest in the Stanley Cup winning coach and the winningest coach in Penguins history. Since day 3 of his firing, Harvey Fialkov of the Sun-Sentinel reported that Tallon reached out to Bylsma.

Here we are on day 6, and Darren Dreger finally confirmed what most of you had hoped for.

Whether it’s Bylsma, Marc Crawford, Gerard Gallant or Ron Wilson, if all goes well, look for the Panthers to announce their new head coach sooner rather than later.

 

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Panthers Receive Permission To Speak With Gerard Gallant

The list of candidates for the head coaching job with the Florida Panthers became longer Monday when General Manager Dale Tallon received approval from the Montreal Canadiens to speak with assistant coach Gerard Gallant.  Gallant, like Tallon, is a former player having played in 615 regular season games, and 58 playoff games in the NHL.  Gallant has coaching experience at many different levels, having coached in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, as well as serving as both an assistant and head coach with the Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Islanders (assistant) and Montreal Canadiens (assistant).

Gallant spent seven years with the Blue Jackets – two of them as their head coach, where he compiled a 56-76-4-6 record in 142 games with a very mediocre roster. While he didn’t find much success in Columbus, he was very successful in the QMJHL, guiding the Saint John Sea Dogs to three first place finishes, three league final appearances, two QMJHL championships and one Memorial Cup.

As a player, Gallant spent his NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings, and played one game for the Tampa Bay Lightning. One reason that Tallon is likely interested in Gallant is that he’s hopeful he can transform his style of play into the style of play for the Florida Panthers.  Gallant played much bigger than his 5′ 10′” frame, scoring 211 goals, adding 269 assists for a combined 480 points.  Gallant scored 30 or more goals in four consecutive seasons for the Red Wings, and as I remember him, was a pain in the rear to play against.

Gallant played with snarl despite his lack of size, and was never afraid to mix it up, as he served over 1,600 penalty minutes during his career. He could bring a toughness behind the bench, an element that the Panthers desperately need, thus making him an attractive potential choice.

Another reason Gallant is getting an opportunity for the opening is that he coached Panther forward Jonathan Huberdeau in juniors. Huberdeau scored 177 points in 104 games with Gallant as his coach, and after last year’s sophomore slump, Gallant may be the right choice to inject some confidence back into the young and promising forward.

The question remains however does Gallant have enough of the coaching experience at the NHL level that Dale Tallon is looking for?  Tallon obviously is searching for a successful coach who has won, who has a philosophy that fits what the organization wants, and a coach that is not only good with veterans, but is good with young players as well.  The development of the youth on this team is imperitive to any success this organization is going to have.

With the draft coming closer, and the Stanley Cup Final beginning on Wednesday, the time to make the announcement is almost here.  Most major news items don’t come during the Cup Final, yet one wouldn’t be surprised if during an off day during the series, the Panthers steal the headlines.

Thanks for reading and we welcome your thoughts in the comments section below!

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