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New York Islanders Had Permission to Speak to ex-Panthers Coach Gerard Gallant

So says the respected corners of Canadian hockey media.

New York Islanders v Florida Panthers - Game Two
“Are we actually talking about this, or are we just talking...as an idea.”
Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

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.

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:

The Isles, you might recall, just played a back-to-back against the Panthers.

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.

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?