SUNRISE, Fla. – It’s official: Gerard (Turk) Gallant is the new head coach of the Florida Panthers.
Dale Tallon, executive vice-president and general manager of the Panthers, made the announcement on Saturday.
“We are pleased to welcome Gerard as the new head coach of the Florida Panthers,” said Tallon in a media release posted on the National Hockey League team’s website. “He is an individual with tremendous character, integrity and a strong passion for the game and has experience as an NHL head coach.
“Gerard is an excellent teacher and motivator who possesses the leadership qualities and hockey knowledge that are necessary to lead our team.”
The Panthers will introduce Gallant during a media conference at the BB&T Center on Monday.
Gallant, a Summerside native, played 615 games in the NHL with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning and compiled a record of 56-76-4-6 as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets from 2003 to 2006. Gallant spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens.
Prior to joining the Canadiens, Gallant coached the Saint John Sea Dogs to back-to-back Quebec Major Junior Hockey League championships in 2011 and 2012. The Sea Dogs also won the 2011 Memorial Cup under Gallant, 50.
Gallant also has previous experience as an NHL assistant coach with the Blue Jackets and New York Islanders.
After retiring as a player in 1995, Gallant joined the coaching staff of the Summerside Western Capitals of the Maritime Junior Hockey League. Gallant would eventually take over as head coach and lead the Caps to the 1997 Royal Bank Cup. The ’97 Caps were the first team east of Ontario to win the Canadian junior A hockey championship.
Gallant made the jump to the pro coaching ranks as an assistant under Summerside native Grant Sonier with the Fort Wayne Komets in the now-defunct International Hockey League.
Gallant will be reunited with Panthers forward and 2012 NHL rookie of the year Jonathan Huberdeau, who was the third overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Huberdeau played three seasons for Gallant in Saint John.
"It's good to be reunited with him and I think things are going to be good with him here,'' Huberdeau told George Richards of the Miami Herald. "I'm excited for this. He's a guy who is intense and into the game. He keeps you up throughout the game. I think the guys are going to react to him. He wants what is best for the players.''
Huberdeau plans to attend Monday's news conference.
Gallant will become the Panthers’s 13th head coach and second from Summerside. Doug MacLean coached the Panthers from 1995 to 1997, including a run to the 1996 Stanley Cup final.