SUMMERSIDE – It appears the Florida Panthers will name a head coach on Monday, and it could be Summerside native Gerard (Turk) Gallant.
“Nothing official but all signs pointing to #FlaPanthers hiring Gerard Gallant,” tweeted George Richards of the Miami Herald on Friday evening. “But word is they did make an offer to Dan Bylsma. We’ll see.”
Bylsma is the former head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Richards indicated a press conference will be held Monday at noon, Atlantic Time, although, as of early Friday evening, he had received no official notification from the Panthers.
It was a wild day of speculation on Friday.
The Score website reported early in the day that the Panthers are “close” to hiring Gallant. That story was based on a report from Richards, who indicated negotiations between Gallant and the Panthers are progressing.
Later Friday, The Score posted an updated story saying the Panthers had settled on Gallant, and Richards tweeted, “Don’t expect anything until Monday” regarding an announcement.
Gallant, who played 615 games in the NHL with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning and compiled a record of 56-76-4-6 (won-lost-tied-overtime losses) as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets from 2003 to 2006, has spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens.
Prior to joining the Canadiens, Gallant coached the Saint John Sea Dogs to back-to-back Quebec Major Junior Hockey League championships in 2011 and 2012. The Sea Dogs also won the 2011 Memorial Cup under Gallant, 50.
Gallant also has previous experience as an NHL assistant coach with the Blue Jackets and New York Islanders.
It’s interesting to note that Panthers forward and 2012 NHL rookie of the year Jonathan Huberdeau, who was the third overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, played for Gallant in Saint John.
“He really helped me a lot,” Huberdeau told Richards in April. “He played in the NHL and had a passion to win. He was great with the young guys, always gave them a chance. I think that’s important for a coach. He related very well with all of us.”
Richards also tweeted that if the Panthers hire Gallant, he will become the second head coach in franchise history from Summerside. Doug MacLean coached the Panthers from 1995 to 1997, including a run to the 1996 Stanley Cup final.