Gerard Gallant’s departure as the head coach of the Vegas Golden Knights on January 15, 2020, came as a surprise to many. But given his history, it should not have been a shock.
Gallant has a long history of being fired from coaching jobs. He was fired from his first NHL head coaching job with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2007 after just two seasons. He was then hired as an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens, and when head coach Guy Carbonneau was fired in 2009, Gallant was named interim head coach. However, he was not offered the full-time job and was dismissed after just one season.
Gallant then spent a year as an assistant coach with the New York Islanders before being named the head coach of the Florida Panthers in 2014. He led the team to a playoff berth in his second season but was fired in November 2016 after a slow start to the season.
Despite his track record, Gallant was hired by the Golden Knights in April 2017 to lead the expansion team. In their first season, Gallant and the Golden Knights shocked the hockey world by reaching the Stanley Cup Final. He was named a finalist for the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s top coach, and the team’s success earned him a contract extension through the 2021-22 season.
However, the Golden Knights struggled in the following seasons and failed to live up to expectations. In his third season with the team, they were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, and the 2019-20 season had been a disappointment as well.
The Golden Knights called Gallant into a meeting after a loss to the Buffalo Sabres on January 14, 2020, and informed him that he had been relieved of his duties as head coach. Gallant was reportedly stunned by the news, but his history shows that he should have seen it coming.
In the cutthroat world of professional sports, winning is everything, and coaches are often the first to take the fall when a team underperforms. While Gallant had experienced success with the Golden Knights in their first season, the team’s struggles over the past two seasons made his departure inevitable.
Gallant’s departure from the Golden Knights may have come as a shock, but given his history, it was not entirely unexpected. Coaches come and go in the NHL, and Gallant’s firing is just the latest example of the high-stakes world of professional coaching.