The news wasn't supposed to come until Monday morning, but the Florida Panthers have made it official, and Gerard Gallant is the team's new head coach.
Gallant will be the third man in the last year to be the club's bench boss, replacing the fired Kevin Dineen and interim head coach Peter Horachek, who led the Cast to a 26-36-4 record after coming up from the San Antonio Rampage to hold the reins as the Cats bumbled through the remainder of the season.
This will be the 50-year-old, former NHL winger's second go around at being the head man of an NHL club. He coached the Columbus Blue Jackets for parts of three seasons, compiling a 56-81-4-6 record in 147 games before he was let go early in the 2006-07 campaign. For LBC's more detailed look at Gallant's background click here.
Florida GM Dale Tallon said prior NHL head-coaching experience was an important aspect when it came to getting the job, but the team did pass on some much more seasoned candidates, like Dan Bylsma, Marc Crawford, Tom Renney, and Ron Wilson. Gallant has a bit of the connection to the Panthers having coached Jonathan Huberdeau during his junior days.
It took a while, but Panthers seemed to have done their due diligence and finally gotten their man. It's time for the Gerard Gallant era in Sunrise to begin!