It was a bright and sunny day in Sunrise, Florida on June 23, 2014 as the Florida Panthers introduced their thirteenth head coach in franchise history, Gerard Gallant. The brightness that engulfed the room from the sun was hopefully an optimistic sign of things to come for an organization striving to achieve stability and direction.
The tone of the entire press conference was one of cautious optimism as the hiring of Gerard Gallant must be met with an understanding that this move alone will not suddenly turn the franchise around. The long, arduous process of fixing the team began with the hiring of Dale Tallon in 2010. The stockpiling of prospects in the farm system may soon start to become an asset that can be utilized with the 2014 NHL Entry Draft fast approaching and the Panthers brass fielding offers in exchange for the first overall pick. Tallon did not show his hand as to what he would do with the pick to the reporters so the hockey world will still be left to speculate until Friday evening.
Gallant was brief with his answers at the podium but in the media scrum he looked and sounded eager to once again take on the responsibility and challenge of coaching an NHL team.
In attendance for the conference was Gallant's former QMJHL player at Saint John's, Jonathan Huberdeau, who also fielded questions regarding reuniting with the coach he won the Memorial Cup alongside in 2011.
Overall, the conference did not have much flash, but then again, it was not expected to. Gallant's hiring is hopefully another step in the right direction for the Panthers as they head into the draft on June 27th and then the beginning of the NHL's free agency period on July 1st. It is to be expected that the Cats will spend more than they had under the previous ownership regime though to what extent is uncertain. Gerard Gallant will soon have his work cut out for him.