Saturday, 21 June 2014

Canadiens lose Assistant Coach Gerard Gallant to Florida Panthers' Head Coach position.

The Florida Panthers have hired Montréal Canadiens Assistant Coach Gerard Gallant as their new head coach, and that's caused a bit of worry among Habs fans.  Some think he played a vital role in smoothing out the rough edges of Michel Therrien's coaching style, and wonder if he's irreplaceable.

I don't think we need to be overly concerned about this 'buffer' role that Gerard Gallant played, as if it's crucial to the Canadiens, specific to having Michel Therrien.  Generally, that's the role the Assistant Coach plays in most if not all NHL dressing rooms, the go-between, the guy who soft-pedals the message, who smooths ruffled feathers.

We occasionally hear of an assistant coach who is/was promoted to head coach, and part of his problems is that his role changes, he now needs to be more a disciplinarian and taskmaster, and it's hard to accomplish that switch effectively, with the same players.

If anything, Gerard Gallant, with his bruiser looks and rambunctious playing career, always struck me as slightly ill-suited for that role, that he may have had to keep some of his more natural impulses to bark and blow his stack once in a while, like Randy Ladouceur sometimes couldn't keep it in check.

We'll be able to find someone who works well as a team-member of Michel Therrien's staff, and can play that role of approachable guy for the younger players, who can pitch the message in a different, more palatable way to players sometimes.

And while the coaching team has done an excellent job based on their results in the standings and the latest playoffs, one of Mr. Gallant's bailiwicks was special teams, and while the Canadiens did well on the penalty kill, as they've done in recent years, the powerplay got off to a tremendous start but petered out as the season wore on.  It's not entirely on Gerard Gallant's shoulder that it did, but it doesn't indicate a mad scientist irreplaceable type, a Mouse Davis or even a Kirk Muller, who gets great results with what he's given to work with.

So good luck to Mr. Gallant, congratulations on what should overall be an amazing job opportunity, but we shouldn't take this as an ill-portend.  It's good news that our coaching staff, our organization is being raided by other teams.  We should find a fresh young coach with new ideas ready to make the jump from the LHJMQ, and he'll be another guy we can stock the pond with.

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