Gerard Gallant of Florida Panthers First Coach Fired in NHL

The Florida Panthers have parted ways with head coach Gerard Gallant following a 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday.

The defending Atlantic Division regular season champions were one game over .500 after 22 games this season, with a 11-10-1 record. Last season the Panthers put up a franchise record setting record of 47-26-9 for 103 points.

Gallant was in the third season of his contract with the Cats, he received a two-year extension in January. Originally hired in Sunrise on June 21, 2014, he has led the Panthers to a 96-65-25 record during his tenure behind the bench.

This season despite dealing with injuries to key players, such as Jonathan Huberdeau, Nick Bjugstad and Alex Petrovic, the Panthers sit just two points out of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Florida has also been restructuring the front office of the organization since giving Gallant the extension.

Team general manager, Tom Rowe, will take over the duties behind the bench on an interim basis. Last season Rowe was behind the bench for the team American Hockey League affiliate in Portland, before becoming the associate general manager for the Panthers in January.

He was promoted to general manager, when the Panthers promoted Dale Tallon to President of Hockey Operations, in May. The team also parted ways with assistant coach, Mike Kelly as well.

The news comes as a surprise, not just due to the fact it was made right after a team loss, but also because this past season, Gallant was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award, for Coach of the Year. They may have fallen to the New York Islanders in the opening round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but their franchise best season, helped to set higher expectations of the club moving forward.

Gallant and his staff may have had some philosophical differences with management and ownership though in the way they felt the team should be run. The Panthers have had a huge offseason with many changes both on the ice and off.

Canada’s was the first to report that the Panthers had indeed relieved Gallant of his duties behind the bench, which was then confirmed by The Miami Herald.

Before leaving PNC Arena in a taxi cab, Gallant told The Miami Herald, “I was let go.”

One of the reporters, outside of the arena had mentioned to him that they thought he had done a good job with the Panthers, he responded by saying, “I thought so too.”

Gallant did partake in the postgame press conference following the loss to the Hurricanes on Sunday prior to being told by management of the decision to let him go. The Miami Herald did report that a source close to Gallant did say that he had felt his job was in jeopardy for some time.

Sunday night’s loss in Raleigh, began a six-game road trip for the Panthers. The Cats will travel to “the windy city” on Tuesday as they take on the Chicago Blackhawks, in Rowe’s first game behind the bench.