The Vegas Golden Knights announced the name of their first ever head coach on Thursday as they officially hired former Florida Panther bench boss, Gerard Gallant.
Gallant, 53, who had been linked to the position since the Panthers relieved him of his responsibilities back on November 27. During the 2015-2016 season, he led the Panthers to a franchise best 47 victories and 103 points and an Atlantic Division title, helping make him a finalist for the 2016 Jack Adams Award, for Coach of the Year.
In six seasons behind the bench in the National Hockey League between the Panthers and Columbus Blue Jackets his record includes 152 wins, 140 losses, four ties and 31 overtime losses.
Gallant said, “Being named the first head coach in Vegas Golden Knights history is such a tremendous opportunity and one I am extremely grateful for. There is a great deal of excitement in the hockey community regarding what is happening with the Golden Knights.”
General Manager, George McPhee added, “We are proud to announce Gerard as the first head coach in Vegas Golden Knights history. He is an experienced head coach, has had success at multiple levels and has a great reputation amongst the players that have played for him. We undertook a very due diligence process over the last several months and canvassed several qualified head coaching candidates to ensure we found the best coach for our group. And we believe that we have found that coach in Gerard.”
He continued, “We look forward to working with him to build a team that our fans and our community are proud to support.”
While Gallant has been linked to the position since he was let go during a Panthers road trip, in Raleigh, North Carolina last November, the reports picked up again on Wednesday when the organization noted that they were close to naming their first coach.
During his playing days, Gallant laced them up for the Detroit Red Wings and the Tampa Bay Lightning. In 11 NHL seasons, he put up 211 goals and 269 assists. His best season was the 1988-1989 season, when he scored 39 goals and 54 assists for the Red Wings.
Before coaching the Blue Jackets, from 2003 to 2007, he served for three seasons as an assistant coach with Columbus. He also served as a coach with the New York Islanders (2007-2009) and the Montreal Canadiens (2009-2012).
The Summerside, Prince Edward Island native, was drafted by the Red Wings with the 107th overall selection in the sixth round of the 1981 NHL Entry Draft. He began his coaching career with the Summerside Capitals of the Maritime Junior Hockey League, in the 1995-1996 season, as he helped guide them to the Royal Bank Cup in 1997.