Gerard Gallant Is Available -- Will Steve Yzerman Make The Move?

The former linemates could reunite in Detroit.

Will Burchfield
January 15, 2020 - 2:08 pm
Gerard Gallant

© Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

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One thing's been clear since Steve Yzerman took over the Red Wings: he isn't going to rush into a new head coach. He's going to wait until he finds his guy. 

Did his guy just hit the market?

In a surprising move Wednesday, the Golden Knights fired Gerard Gallant, the seventh NHL head coach to be axed this season. Gallant and Yzerman go back to their playing days, when they were teammates for eight seasons in Detroit. The best years of Gallant's career were spent on Yzerman's wing. 

And when Yzerman served as general manager of Team Canada for the 2007 World Championship, he hired Gallant as an assistant coach. The Canadiens went on to win the gold medal. Gallant's coaching career has taken off in the years since.

After a successful run in the Junior ranks, including twice being named Coach of the Year in the CHL, he was hired by the Panthers in 2014 and led them to consecutive 90-point seasons for the only time in franchise history. That included an 103-point season and a division title in 2015-16. The Panthers stunningly fired Gallant after a slow start the next season. 

It didn't take long for Gallant to land on his feet -- and then bolster his resume. He took over the expansion Golden Knights and steered them to the Stanley Cup Finals in their first-ever season. That earned him the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's Coach of the Year. Gallant took the Knights back to the playoffs last season and had them right in the race this season. 

He was let go Wednesday amid the team's four-game losing streak. 

“In order for our team to reach its full potential, we determined a coaching change was necessary," said Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon. "Our team is capable of more than we have demonstrated this season." 

That can be debated. What's clear is Gallant's track record behind the bench. So is this: Jeff Blashill is running out of time. He's now the third-longest tenured head coach in the NHL, trailing only Paul Maurice of the Jets and John Cooper of the Lightning, and the Red Wings have the most losses in the league during his tenure. 

That's not entirely Blashill's fault, and Yzerman acknowledged as much last week. 

“We've had injuries from day one of training camp. Regardless of injuries, our record and our team's performance is somewhat unfair to pin that on the coaching staff at this point," he said.

But at some point, Blashill's record will cost him. And it feels like we're approaching that point as we head into the second half of the season. It's unlikely Yzerman will make a change before the offseason, and it makes sense to give a new head coach a clean slate. 

Then again, Yzerman may prefer his odds of landing Gallant now than after the season, when the coach will surely have more suitors. 

Either way, you can bet Gallant is already on Yzerman's radar -- and it just may prompt the GM to make a change sooner than he planned.