Editor’s Note Seconds after this piece was published, the Panthers make it official
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) June 21, 2014
The Florida Panthers are expected to make their decision on a head coach in a press conference set for Monday at 11am. George Richards of the Miami Herald believes that all fingers are pointing in the direction of Gerard Gallant, the assistant coach of the Montreal Canadiens:
Nothing official but all signs pointing to
#FlaPanthers hiring Gerard Gallant. But word is they did make an offer to Dan Bylsma. We’ll see.
As per Jimmy Murphy of XN Sports, he too expects Gallant’s hiring:
“I have confirmed through an NHL source that Gerard Gallant is very close to becoming the new head coach of the Florida Panthers.”
“Per that same source, Panthers coaching job was down to Gallant or Dan Bylsma but as of now it appears the job is Gallant’s.”
I looked into the two biggest names that could find themselves behind the bench of the Panthers just five days ago, here:
Rumors circulated about Gallant’s candidacy the moment he requested and received permission from Habs general manager Marc Bergevin to speak to the Florida Panthers about the vacant head coach position.
The moment the Canadiens were eliminated, Gallant was in Florida to meet with general manager Dale Tallon to discuss contract talks and future plans for the team. When the Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma was officially released, his name was also thrown into the equation, however speculation arose that he was asking for more money and term than Tallon was willing to offer.
It’s worth noting that Bylsma also found himself in Vancouver to discuss working behind the bench of the Canucks team, but they too turned down Bylsma and instead went with Willie Desjardins, who had previously coached the Dallas Stars AHL affiliate.
If Gallant is the guy going forward, Tallon and the upper management have realized that their Panthers team is one on the rise and needs leadership behind that bench that understands how to develop youth properly. While that’s not a shot at Bylsma and his record, Gallant’s direct history with forward Jonathan Huberdeau and youth in general is a step in the right direction.
Should the announcement confirm the hiring, one question comes to mind; will Nathan Beaulieu find himself in a Panthers jersey by the start of next season? With Gallant as his biggest supporter and having coached him in juniors along side Huberdeau, Beaulieu could be an excellent fit on the Panthers blue-line. Will the Panthers be calling Montreal, and what would they offer?
On the Habs front; who takes over as assistant coach with the departure of Gallant? Kirk Muller would have been an exceptional replacement and a delight to the fanbase, but he has since landed in St. Louis to fill in as assistant coach for the Blues. Perhaps the Canadiens don’t go shopping outside of their organization and instead bring Clement Jodoin down from the press box to fill in.
And where does Dan Bylsma find himself? He is currently unemployed and will receive $2-million per year for the next two years from the Penguins organization as long as he remains unemployed. It would only make sense for him to accept an offer above that salary and if not, he could take the next two years off on a paid vacation.
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