The Florida Panthers made a surprising coaching change after a 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday when they fired head coach Gerard Gallant. The Panthers parted ways despite an 11-10-1 record to open the season.
Florida had their best regular season finish ever under Gallant last year going 47-26-9—good enough to win the Atlantic division. They went on to lose in the first round of the playoffs to the Islanders, but expectations were high coming into this season. Gallant was also runner up for coach of the year; success was never an issue for the coach who held an all time record of 96-65-25 in two-plus seasons with the Panthers. Florida extended Gallant’s contract through the 2018-2019 season back in January.
Gerard Gallant had his contract extended last year. Was runner up for C of Y. Now he's fired and a bad coach ? Seriously?
— Darren R Pang (@Panger40) November 28, 2016
The cards were stacked against Gallant this season, though. The team suffered key injuries early on. Center Jonathan Huberdeau has yet to play this season and isn’t expected back for several more weeks. Nick Bjugstad and Jussi Jokinen have missed significant amounts of time and Alex Petrovic is now expected to miss up to two months with an ankle injury. On top of all that, Jaromir Jagr, who was the leading scorer last season, has just three goals this season.
The Panthers did not part on good terms with Gallant either as they kicked the coach to the curb—literally. Gallant and assistant coach Mike Kelly, who was also fired, were forced to leave the arena in North Carolina in a taxi cab.
— SiriusXM NHL Network (@SiriusXMNHL) November 28, 2016
First Game Without Gallant
General Manager Tom Rowe take overs for now, becoming the fifth Panthers coach in the last five seasons. The team hired Rowe in May. Florida plays their first game tonight since the firing as they head to Chicago to take on Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks. Puck drops at 8:30 p.m.