The New York Islanders have asked for and received permission to talk to former Florida Panthers coach Gerard Gallant at least a week or more ago, according to tweets by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and TSN and NBC’s Bob McKenzie, the same day Jack Capuano was fired as Islanders coach.
Hearing NYI have permission to talk to former Florida coach Gerard Gallant. He was an Islanders' assistant from 2007-09.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) January 18, 2017
As @FriedgeHNIC initially reported, NYI have asked for and received permission to talk to ex-FLA head coach Gerard Gallant.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) January 18, 2017
Worth noting on NYI permission request to talk to Gerard Gallant, it was made some time ago. Not hours/days, believed to week(s) or more.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) January 18, 2017
The detail about it being weeks ago would be interesting given some comments Gallant recently made about his hockey-watching habits, and which games he watched recently:
Again, this is what Gerard Gallant said last week, around time Isles were playing Panthers. pic.twitter.com/CHasnANkf9— Rookie Example (@KeithLHHockey) January 18, 2017
The Isles, you might recall, just played a back-to-back against the Panthers.
What I gather from LRT: Gallant would have been hired already. #Isles— Brian Compton (@BComptonNHL) January 18, 2017
Gallant, who was fired in November under the cover of night (okay: on a road trip where local media was not present), is still under contract with the Panthers — precisely why they’d be all too happy to release him from that contract to go coach someone else.
It's unclear at this point whether Gallant is a current candidate to be NYI next head coach or was a prior and now former consideration.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) January 18, 2017
The former NHL player is also a former assistant coach with the Isles under general manager Garth Snow during the Ted Nolan-Scott Gordon years. Between the Islanders and Panthers stints, at the NHL level he was also a revered assistant coach for the Montreal Canadiens.
Perhaps as importantly, he was coach of the Panthers for their division title last season and their hard-fought playoff series loss to the Islanders, after which he repeated that he thinks the Panthers, based on how they played overall, would win that series if it were played over again.
(We think he’s right: Thomas Greiss stood on his head all series, John Tavares was a beast, and the Islanders won three games in overtime, the telling sign of a coin flip.)
Ever since the Panthers canned him — to the outrage of many in NHL circles who thought they did him wrong — Gallant has been a popular option among some segments of the Isles fan base. Not that that matters, nor should matter.
The Islanders named as interim coach Doug Weight, who was already the assistant coach and assistant to the general manager, which could mean he’s in on a trial basis or he’s just a caretaker until someone else is hired. There is some rather rational thought, including from McKenzie, suggesting the Isles would name a new president/hockey operations head above Snow before selecting a long-term coach.
But maybe not.
To channel Glengarry Glen Ross, are the Islanders actually talking about this? Or are they just speaking about it, as an idea?