Wilfredo Lee/AP Photo
It became a cold, dark Sunday night for the Florida Panthers in Raleigh, North Carolina last weekend. The Panthers led 2-0 after 20 minutes, and then were outscored by the Hurricanes 3-0 in the 2nd period.
After the game ended, Panthers Head Coach Gerard Gallant was relieved of his coaching duties. The second period “collapse” became the final straw for Gallant in the eyes of Florida Panthers management.
After the “collapse,” the stunning images began to surface over the internet. The photos showed that Gallant was leaving PNC Arena in a taxi cab. No Panthers employees came to assist him in his departure. Gallant was seen getting into his cab, and being assisted by a PNC Arena employee.
Before this incident occurred, there had been reports of a philosophical difference between Gallant and Panthers management over the past few months. This situation has escalated over time, and thus, ended poorly.
Gallant has recently spoken out about the Panthers, and has said that they need more heavy bodies. The new Panthers management has reportedly settled in an analytics direction, and they want their lineup to have more speed and finesse.
KICKED TO THE CURB
This firing is very puzzling. While the Panthers have struggled in the first quarter of the season, they are still within a few points of a wild card spot, and they are within striking distance of the top spot in the Atlantic Division.
The Panthers are a young team that is the defending Atlantic Division Champions. Gallant had 96 wins with the Panthers in his short stint with the club. He was a Jack Adams Award finalist last season.
Gallant had accomplished a lot in his brief stint in Florida. He will likely find a new NHL coaching job very soon, as he is well respected around the league.
IT IS A CRUEL BUSINESS
The NHL can be a cruel business at times. It can involve situations like coaches being fired, or players being released or traded.
This philosophical difference between Gallant and Panthers management was going on for a while. While managers or owners sometimes are forced to make tough decisions, was this decision done properly? Was it right for the Panthers management to fire Gallant at this specific time? Could these changes have happened months ago, at a more peaceful time when there was no hockey going on? Could these changes have happened before or after the current Florida Panthers road trip?
Was it necessary to let a coach go right after a game concluded? Did the Panthers management have to literally kick Gallant to the curb?
I feel that this move should have happened earlier. If a club is going to make a coaching change, it is probably better to do it during the offseason, in most cases. Once the season begins and is in motion, a coaching change can become a major distraction. With the way the Panthers have struggled early, and with the way Gallant was let go, it has become a major distraction for the Florida Panthers organization. This coaching change seemed like an impulse decision from one or multiple people at the top.
I hope this move is something that the Panthers do not regret some time down the road. While coaches and management groups can have philosophical differences at times, teams can still find success and still win games. Good coaches are able to work with what they are given, and can still win games with players that may or may not fit their “style.”
By: George Foussekis