General manager describes Summerside native as ‘ideal fit’ for Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. – It didn’t take long for head coach Gerard (Turk) Gallant and the Florida Panthers to agree on a two-year contract extension.
© Jason Simmonds/Journal Pioneer
Florida Panthers head coach Gerard (Turk) Gallant of Summerside lets linesman John Grandt, 98, know he is not happy with a call during a game against the Dave Cameron-coached Ottawa Senators on Feb. 21. To the left of Gallant is assistant coach Mike Kelly, who grew up in Shamrock, P.E.I. It marked the first time two head coaches from P.E.I. met in a National Hockey League game.
“About a day,” said Gallant, who is now signed through the 2018-19 National Hockey League season. “It all happened pretty quick.”
It’s been a busy few days for the Panthers, who also re-signed executive vice-president and general manager Dale Tallon to a three-year extension, and promoted Tom Rowe to associate general manager. Rowe had been head coach of the Panthers’ American Hockey League affiliate in Portland, Maine.
“We are pleased to agree with Gerard on a multi-year extension,” Tallon said in a team media release. “He has done an excellent job of creating a winning culture, and developing our young players in his time with the Panthers.
“He is an ideal fit for our group, and we look forward to having him lead our team as we work towards our goal of winning the Stanley Cup.”
Gallant, who has one year remaining on a deal he signed with Florida in June 2014, is “thrilled” to remain with the Panthers.
“They came to me the other day and we had a deal the next day,” added Gallant, 52. “The team is playing well, and we are having a real good year so far this year.
“It’s a real good lifestyle down here, the team is on the upswing and everything is moving forward. I’m real happy.”
In his first season with Florida, Gallant guided the up-and-coming team to a league-high 25-point improvement. The Panthers went from 66 points to 91 – 38-29-15 (won-lost-overtime losses) – last season.
“We are pleased to agree with Gerard on a multi-year extension. He has done an excellent job of creating a winning culture, and developing our young players in his time with the Panthers. He is an ideal fit for our group, and we look forward to having him lead our team as we work towards our goal of winning the Stanley Cup.” Panthers executive vice-president and general manager Dale Tallon
The Atlantic Division-leading Panthers, who have won eight in a row and went 11-3 in December, took a 22-12-4 record into Sunday’s game against the Minnesota (20-10-7).
“We really played 60-minute games, and that was the biggest thing,” said Gallant in assessing the Panthers’ success. “Obviously, our top players on our top lines did some damage offensively, but we won a lot of those games because of tight defensive hockey, good goaltending and solid play.
“I don’t think there was any one reason we turned it around that quick. It was a combination of everything, and everybody played 60-minute games – all four lines, six defencemen and both goaltenders. We just have to continue that.”
Gallant acknowledged there’s still a lot of work to be done.
“We are still far from our goal of getting in the playoffs and being competitive in the playoffs, but so far this season it has been going real well and we have to continue to do that,” said the Summerside native.