Looking back at Gallant's past three weeks

Jason Simmonds
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SUNRISE, Fla. – It has been quite a three-week period for Gerard (Turk) Gallant.

The Summerside native went right from the heat of the Stanley Cup playoffs as an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens into the interview process for the Florida Panthers’s head-coaching position.

“Basically, it started a couple of days after our season, when we lost to the (New York) Rangers,” explained Gallant. “(Panthers general manager) Dale Tallon called (Montreal GM) Marc Bergevin for permission to talk.

“Marc gave that permission, and a couple of days later I flew to Florida and met with Dale for three or four hours. Then I came back home and got the second call to meet the owners in New York City.

“I met them a week later after the first meeting with Dale, and this past Friday night he called me and offered me the job.”

The 50-year-old Gallant, who was introduced as the 13th head coach in franchise history on Monday, made a good first impression.

Despite the fact the Canadiens had just been eliminated two wins shy of the Stanley Cup final, Tallon was impressed with Gallant’s eagerness and upbeat attitude.

“I’ve never heard a negative word said about Gerard Gallant in any capacity in hockey,” Tallon was quote as saying in an Associated Press story.

Although the Panthers finished 29th out of 30 teams on the strength of a 29-45-8 (won-lost-overtime losses) record last season, Gallant is excited about the team’s future.

“In the NHL today, anybody can beat anybody,” said Gallant, who played 615 games in the NHL with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning.

“We played them four times with Montreal and they beat us twice and played us tough.

“Florida has four or five really top young players, and there are more coming. Right now the core of our team is really good, and hopefully we can turn the corner this year, because the future for Florida is real good.”

The Panthers also hold the first pick in Friday’s NHL Entry Draft, and are expected to be very active when free agency opens July 1.

Organizations: Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, Montreal GM NHL Associated Press Detroit Red Wings Tampa Bay Lightning

Geographic location: Florida, New York City, Montreal

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