May 22, 2012
SHAWINIGAN, Que. — Given that "Gerard Gallant speak French" is a popular Google search, it was just a matter of when he'd get asked about working for the Montreal Canadiens.
The Saint John Sea Dogs coach had to address the Habs question on Tuesday at the MasterCard Memorial Cup. Marc Bureau, a former Hab and ex-NHL teammate of Gallant's who is now a contributor with the TVA Sports network, suggested recently Gallant might be a candidate for a coaching job in Montreal. Gallant and freshly hired Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin also played together with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1993-94, when Gallant was near the end of his playing days.
Gallant, who was a NHL coach for seven seasons, was quick to dismiss the rumour.
"No, not at all," he said. We all want to get to the National Hockey League. That's the goal of every player, every trainer and the coaches themselves. I haven't thought about it. Marc Bergevin and I played together, we're good friends. Marc Bureau and I played together also. There's a race to get there, but I haven't talked with anyone. There's no talk about that. Once the season's over, if someone wants to talk to me, I'll listen for sure."
At least one head coach from each the last five Memorial Cups has gone on to a NHL job soon after. Last season, Dave Cameron from the runner-up Mississauga St. Michael's Majors and Mark Reeds of the Owen Sound Attack moved up to the NHL as assistant coaches with the Ottawa Senators. In 2010, Bob Boughner left the two-time champion Windsor Spitfires to join the staff of the Columbus Blue Jackets, but returned to Windsor after one season.
Gallant, a former Blue Jackets head coach, has come close to proving all he can in Saint John. Under he and associate coach Mike Kelly, the Sea Dogs have set a number of QMJHL firsts, becoming the first Maritime team to win the Memorial Cup and first team in league history to have three 50-win seasons in succession. They've also developed talent well. A dozen Sea Dogs are NHL draft picks and/or under contract to a big-league organization.
Point being, there might be timing for a change.A dollar-store psychologist would also wonder if Gallant's referee rants are coming from someone who's not filtering since he might not be in the league next year. Then again, Patrick Roy is still in the QMJHL and says what he feel likes about pretty much everyone involved in it.
Gallant also has an obvious tie to another NHL GM. Along with having played for the Tampa Bay Lightning, he was a long-time teammate of Bolts GM Steve Yzerman with the Detroit Red Wings. Lightning head coach Guy Boucher has one season left on his contract.
Among the coaches in this Cup, the Edmonton Oil Kings' Derek Laxdal is also under a NHL watch, so to speak. The Edmonton Journal noted Tuesday that Laxdal could be considered for a post with the Edmonton Oilers, who own the WHL team.
Other Memorial Cup coaches who went on to the NHL include New Jersey Devils head caoch Peter DeBoer (2008 Kitchener Rangers) and Boucher (Drummondville, 2009). Willie Desjardins, who coached Medicine Hat in the '07 tournament, is now with the Dallas Stars.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.