There was talk that General Manager Dale Tallon was looking to make a splash when he hired yet another head coach for the Florida Panthers. This is a team that has been essentially in perpetual rebuilding mode, and there were even some murmurings that the Panthers would hire Dan Bylsma once the Penguins gave him the (inexplicable) axe. However, that is not the case, as instead the Panthers have hired Gerard Gallant to be their next head coach.
Well, this doesn't qualify as a "splash," but that's not a bad thing. John Tortorella made some noise for the Canucks, but he also made some noise when he tried to beat up a hockey game and when he got fired after one season. To me, Gallant will always be the guy I had 100 hockey cards of for some reason. His playing career is not the point here, though. Gallant has spent the last couple of seasons as an assistant with the Montreal Canadiens, and he has spent time with a few teams as an assistant, including with Florida's AHL team back in the day. He also actually has some head coaching experience in the NHL. He took over for Doug MacLean during the 2003-2004 season for the Columbus Blue Jackets, got one full year with them after the lockout season, and then got 15 games before the Jackets were able to secure Ken Hitchcock for the head coaching job. This was not exactly a memorable tenure. It was in Columbus, after all.
Additionally, Gallant was the head coach of the Saint John Sea Dogs in the QMJHL for three years, winning the league twice and the Memorial Cup once. He was twice named Canadian Hockey League Coach of the Year. Only Bob Boughner can say that! Gallant is still only 50, and he already has all this success and experience to his name. That's encouraging Also probably worth noting? One of Gallant's players in Saint John was Jonathan Huberdeau, one of the cornerstones of Florida's future. This probably was influential in Gallant getting the job, but Gallant's resume still speaks for itself.
I like this hiring for the Panthers, even if I can't really say I have a ton of knowledge of Gallant's coaching acumen. He has experience, he has had success, and he has spent plenty of time coaching in the NHL. Maybe he's the next great coach. At the very least, he shouldn't be an issue for the Panthers. He'll need talent to work with, and Florida does have the top pick in this year's NHL Draft, which helps. Now, the only jobs open are Pittsburgh and Vancouver. One is a great job, albeit it with significant expectations. One is maybe not so good, as the Canucks look like they could be in for a rebuild. They could have used a guy like Gallant, but Florida got him.