STORY EDITED AT 6:45 PM: Reflects team store not having t-shirts on Thursday (GR)
Doug MacLean and Gerard Gallant have been friends for a long, long time.
McLean, who coached the Florida Panthers from 1995-98, was Gallant’s high school teacher and coach on Prince Edward Island back in the day.
So, when Gallant was fired by the Panthers a few weeks ago, MacLean — now a radio host and television analyst in Canada — was incensed.
Not only did he take to the airwaves to air his grievances, he did what a lot of us do these days: MacLean went on Twitter.
MacLean wrote that Gallant’s firing — and the Panthers handling of the situation — was the final straw in his support for the team.
“You know I have loved the @FlaPanthers deep down for 20 years!,” MacLean wrote soon after word of Gallant’s firing in Caroling got out.
“A lifetime! But this killed it! This is a complete joke. Wow.”
Florida co-owner Doug Cifu was also a target of MacLean’s online anger.
“Congratulations,” MacLean wrote to Cifu, “you are now a hockey expert.”
That tweet led to Cifu responding (from vacation in Ireland) that he learned everything he knows based on MacLean’s time running the expansion Columbus Blue Jackets.
It was there, one should note, that MacLean was forced by his ownership group to fire Gallant himself and take over coaching the Blue Jackets.
MacLean, who still lives in South Florida and has been a frequent visitor to Sunrise over the years, has said firing his friend Gallant in 2006 was “the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”
Anyway, all of that leads to today.
Although the MacLean-Cifu-Panthers Twitter battle cooled in the days since Gallant was relieved of duties, it has popped back up.
On Thursday night, the Panthers’ team shop in Sunrise planned to have special red t-shirts for sale which feature the new logo and the words: Hockey Expert.
Cifu made a picture of the shirt his Twitter avatar although they weren’t available before Thursday’s game against the Penguins because of a printing error.
According to an employee at the store, the back of the shirt was supposed to have the team Twitter address (@FlaPanthers) but instead spelled out Florida.
So, they hope to have the shirts on sale Saturday.