It turns out the Florida Panthers new analytics-based approach and head coach Gerard Gallant were simply not a match.
Just months after the leading the organization to its best-ever regular season finish and a rare playoff appearance, Gallant was fired after the Cats 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday night in Raleigh.
In a not so picturesque moment, Gerard and assistant coach Mike Kelly (also let go) were seen awaiting their own transportation at PNC Arena while the Panthers left for Chicago for the second game of a six-game road trip.
At least a Hurricanes employee was nice enough to help Gerard Gallant with his bags as he got into a taxi after being fired. (AP Photo) pic.twitter.com/04SVf0PiIb— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) November 28, 2016
After a summer overhaul to his playoff team that he didn’t seem to be completely (or maybe a lot less than that) on board with, Gallant was dismissed after compiling a 11-10-1 record this season.
More was expected of the Cats this season, but the record certainly wasn’t outlandish, considering the amount of new faces in the lineup and the early season losses of quality forwards Nick Bjugstad, Jussi Jokinen, and Jonathan Huberdeau, who remains out.
Gallant’s first season piloting the club, 2014-15, saw the Panthers post a 91-point season, an increase of 18 of the previous campaign.
Last year, the Panthers, buoyed by an impressive 12-game winning streak, finished with a franchise-record 103 points and won a division title for just the second time in its history.
Unfortunately, the team, making just its fifth postseason appearance, was bounced in the first round by the underdog New York Islanders.
Gallant, who finished with a 96-65-26 record with Florida, is a quality coach who should not be out of work long. Look for him to be among the candidates for the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, who will began play next season, as well other existing NHL clubs looking to make an in-season change.
Tom Rowe, who in less than a year, has gone from Florida’s AHL coach to replacing the beloved Dale Tallon as its general manager, will take over behind the bench on an interim basis.
Head coach is a role Rowe has a lot of experience with, albeit not at the NHL level. He has 426 games of AHL experience and also coached Yaroslavl Lokomotiv of the KHL for one season.
The 60-year old Rowe is largely responsible for putting together a team this offseason that management has deemed as underachieving. It is now his task to right the ship and guide it to the expected goal of not only making the playoffs, but contending for a title.