The New York Islanders reportedly have permission to talk for former Florida Panthers coach Gerard Gallant.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman broke the news Tuesday, the same day the team fired head coach Jack Capuano. TSN’s Bob McKenzie then reported that the Islanders made the request “some time ago,” potentially weeks or more. McKenzie also said that it’s unclear if Gallant is “a current candidate to be NYI next head coach or was a prior and now former consideration.”
When the Islanders announced Capuano’s firing they said assistant general manager Doug Weight would assume coaching duties on an interim basis. There was no indication that New York was close to moving on another candidate.
“This is an organizational decision. It’s not a dictatorship. There’s lots of dialogue, all throughout the organization, when big decisions were made,” general manager Garth Snow said. “At the end of the day, I don’t think that Jack was going to be a coach that we were going to bring back. To name Dougie Weight the interim head coach, we can start our coaching search now and not worry about the ramifications of that with Jack as the head coach.”
Gallant was fired by the Panthers on Nov. 27 after posting an 11-10-1 record in 2016-17. Last season, he coached Florida to their top regular season in franchise history with a 47-26-9 record and 103 points. With the Panthers, Gallant held a 96-64-25 record in two-plus seasons.
Gallant also coached the Columbus Blue Jackets for parts of three seasons starting in 2003-04 and ending 15 games in 2006-07. Gallant was an Islanders assistant coach in 2007-08 and 2008-09.
Last January, the Panthers gave Gallant a multi-year contract extension.
In a recent interview with ESPN.com, Gallant spoke about potential future plans.
“When I got let go, for two or three days I got an unbelievable amount of support from people around the league, coaches and general managers, it was really nice,” Gallant said. “When stuff like that happens, they know how tough it is. So I got a lot of support but also heard a lot of great advice. I’ve had a lot of friends saying, ‘Make sure it’s the right thing. You did a great job in Florida, you’ll get another job.'”
Late last year Florida took a hard turn towards an analytical approach with their hockey team and Gallant reportedly held a different vision for the Panthers than their management. Gallant dismissed this line of thinking in his interview with ESPN.
“I wasn’t fired because of analytics,” Gallant said. “I loved coaching the Florida Panthers and I’m a stubborn guy at times; maybe I said a little too much, maybe I gave my opinion a little bit too much. Maybe when they asked for my opinion, I have an honest opinion and sometimes it doesn’t help you. Maybe it wasn’t always what they wanted to hear. I don’t know where it went from there …”
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