Would Montreal Canadiens be wise to turn to a proven commodity in Gerard Gallant?

Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

Gerard Gallant could be an intriguing option for the Montreal Canadiens.

It has been quite the morning in the NHL after the Montreal Canadiens decided to fire Head Coach Claude Julien and Assistant Coach Kirk Muller in the wake of the team’s 5-4 loss to the Ottawa Senators in a Shootout on Tuesday night, and Gerard Gallant could be a potential replacement.

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For now, however, the Canadiens have announced that Dominique Ducharme will step up as the team’s Interim Head Coach while Alex Burrows, an Assistant Head Coach for the Laval Rocket and a former NHL forward who spent most of his career with the Vancouver Canucks, will join the Montreal Coaching Staff.

It makes sense that Montreal General Manager Marc Bergevin will look to steady the ship with someone who knows this current roster, with Ducharme having been an assistant with the Canadiens since April 2018, while he won a Silver and Gold Medal with Team Canada at the IIHF World Junior Championship in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

And it is feasible that if this team responds well to Ducharme and turn things around, then Bergevin could look to stand pat until the end of the 2020-21 NHL season. However, if he is serious about winning this year, as his plethora of the moves in the offseason would suggest, then he should get on the phone to Gerard Gallant.

Gerard Gallant
Head coach Gerard Gallant (R) of the Vegas Golden Knights. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Gerard Gallant would help to take the Montreal Canadiens to the next level

Out of work since his shock firing by the Vegas  Golden Knights during the 2019-20 season, Gerard Gallant interviewed for the vacant Washington Capitals Head Coach job during the summer and many feel as though he would be perfect for the Seattle Kraken Head Coach role, including yours truly.

Therefore, if the Montreal Canadiens have even a remote interest in hiring Gallant as their new Bench Boss, then they should look to make a move pretty soon or risk losing out on the former Columbus Blue Jackets and Florida Panthers coach.

After all, Gallant’s stock is still incredibly high in the wake of the stunning job he did in Sin City with the Golden Knights, bringing together a bunch of players who were middling in mediocrity in the NHL before helping to turn them into the “Golden Misfits” we now all know and love.

Gallant was responsible for helping players in the ilk of William Karlsson and Shea Theodore really unlock their potential and establish themselves as elite players in the National Hockey League, while his coaching style and ability to relate to his players translated to one of the most historical first seasons ever carved out by an expansion team in the any of the major sports.

The Knights absolutely took the NHL by storm in their inaugural year in 2017-18, winning the Pacific Division on their way to stunning everyone in the postseason by reaching the Stanley Cup Final, eventually losing to the Washington Capitals in five games.

That stunning and magical run obviously heightened expectations around this team and they made the postseason again the following year, losing to rivals the San Jose Sharks in the First Round in more than controversial circumstances, while Gallant was on pace to lead the Golden Knights to the Playoffs three years in a row before being canned in 2019-20.

Gallant’s firing sent seismic waves throughout the hockey world given that it came after one rough patch, and many felt that the winner of the Jack Adams Award in 2018 – given to the most outstanding Head Coach in the NHL – deserved more time, especially considering that the Golden Knights were just suffering from bad puck luck at the time and a turnaround seemed inevitable.

Gerard Gallant
Head coach Gerard Gallant of the Vegas Golden Knights (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Anyway, that is in the past and there is no doubt that another opportunity lies in wait in the near future for Gallant, who would be a good fit for the Montreal Canadiens. Firstly, he knows what to expect from this unforgiving market having worked in this hockey hotbed before as an Assistant Coach under Michel Therrien in 2012-13 and 2013-14, so he would be well prepared for the media scrutiny and the pressure that comes with working for such a storied franchise.

His track record is pretty damn good given that he took the Florida Panthers to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and, as we’ve already mapped out, led an expansion team to the Stanley Cup Final and to the postseason again the following year, while it was widely thought at the time that both his firings from the Panthers and the Golden Knights were more than harsh given the circumstances.

Gallant is known to demand respect from his players and he cultivates an environment in which they want to play hard for him, and he proved with the Golden Knights that he can squeeze every ounce of potential out of players, so he would no doubt do a good job when it comes to ensuring that this talented Canadiens team play at the peak of their powers and to their full potential.

Now, there is a rather big caveat at play here in that Canadiens ownership prefers coaches who can speak both English and French and, while Gallant has played in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, he doesn’t speak French. He has, however, worked with a number of players who do and there is such a thing as an intensive course to learn a new language these days.

Next. Montreal Canadiens fire Claude Julien. dark

Anyway, that small detail is something maybe the Canadiens and ownership could overlook if they felt that Gerard Gallant could be the guy to take them to the promised land and, if they do come to that conclusion, then there is no doubt that the former Vegas Golden Knights bench boss would tick a lot of other boxes for the Montreal Canadiens and he has a clear track record of winning in the National Hockey League, which should be the most important priority for General Manager Marc Bergevin given the team he has put together this season.