The Florida Panthers made another midseason coaching change as Gerard Gallant was fired following Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Gallant, 53, was in the midst of his third season with the club and comes following a front office upheaval over the offseason.
General manager Tom Rowe, who replaced Dale Tallon following Florida’s first-round playoff exit last season, will take over behind the bench. Florida also fired Gallant’s friend and assistant coach Mike Kelly.
Florida’s loss on Sunday dropped the Panthers to 11-10-1, two points out of a playoff spot.
The move was first reported by Canada’s Sportsnet and confirmed by the Miami Herald.
Gallant was not immediately available for comment and didn’t respond to text messages from the Herald. Gallant left PNC Arena in a taxi cab.
“I was let go,” Gallant told reporters who followed him outside the arena.
When someone mentioned he had done a good job in his time with the Panthers, Gallant simply said "I thought so too."
The Panthers gave Gallant a two-year contract extension last season, one in which he was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award for NHL coach of the year after the Panthers set franchise records for wins (47) and points in a season (103).
On the day Gallant’s extension was announced, the Panthers also signed then-general manager Dale Tallon to a three-year deal.
Tallon was replaced by Rowe following the playoff loss to the New York Islanders with Tallon being named president of hockey operations.
When asked about being signed through 2019, Gallant smiled and said "there’s no guarantee I’ll be here, but at least I have the contract."
A source close to Gallant said he felt his job was in jeopardy for some time.
Gallant, who coached the Atlantic Division squad at last year’s All-Star Game, spoke to the media following Sunday’s game but that apparently came before he was told of the front office decision.
The Panthers kicked off a six-game road trip with Sunday’s loss; Florida took an early 2-0 lead on goals by Jaromir Jagr and Jonathan Marchessault before the host Hurricanes scored three goals early in the second and held on for the win.
Florida is off to Chicago where it will play the Blackhawks on Tuesday night. The Panthers wee scheduled to have Monday off.
“For five minutes we let them come back in the game and they scored three big goals," Gallant told Fox Sports Florida following the game.
“That was disappointing because we probably played 55 good minutes. It wasn’t enough. You can’t have those kind of letdowns and they killed us.”
Rowe, 60, came to the Florida Panthers in 2013 after Kevin Dineen was fired at the start of that season.
When Peter Horachek was brought up from Florida’s AHL affiliate in Portland, Maine, to take over for Dineen, Rowe went behind the bench there.
Around last Christmas, Rowe left Portland and was brought to South Florida to be the Panthers’ new associate general manager under Tallon.
In the span of less than a year, Rowe rose through the ranks of the organization from AHL coach to general manager and now head coach.
“I’m ecstatic to be able to work with Dale and work under his guidance and direction,” Rowe said after being brought in as associate GM.
“He’s done one heck of a job here. To be able to come here for this position, see how it works in the NHL is a great thing.”