The Florida Panthers arduous search for a new bench boss has come to an end. The team will introduce Gerard Gallant on Monday, June 23 at 11 AM. We all were playing guessing games but it came down to two candidates in Montreal Canadiens assistant coach Gerard Gallant and former Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma. Ultimately Gallant won out.
The Panthers got to this point after suffering yet another disastrous season in which they once again plunged to the NHL basement. They started the 2013-14 season with Kevin Dineen, the man who led the team to their only division championship in 2011-12, yet he would not last long, getting fired in early November after an abysmal start that formed a wedge between him and his players. The Panthers would call-up Peter Horachek, the head coach of their AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage, to lead the team the rest of the way. Horachek, despite wearing the interim tag, did garner some positive results, as he provided a small sense of stability and a less stoic tone. However, the Cats' lacked consistency, continued to be abysmal on special teams, and could not compete with the NHL's best. There was nothing Horachek, or likely any head coach, could do to provide a quick enough fix, and he was let go after the conclusion of the season.
Now, the Panthers look to set the tone for not only this upcoming season, but for years to come, as they hope this much-anticipated coaching hire will both last and find success in the Sawgrass. This coming week could hold multiple important moments in franchise history, as they not only named a new head coach, but also hold the first selection in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft being held in Philadelphia on Friday, June 27. LBC and many in Pantherland have pondered the potential scenarios that could occur due to the value of the number one pick.
In the ongoing SB Nation 2014 NHL Mock Draft, Litter Box Cats chose Aaron Ekblad, though it is uncertain what Dale Tallon and his staff might decide to do with the pick come Friday.
Get ready Cats fans, this heady week may just be one we will be fondly looking back on a few years from now.