The Habs will be on the hunt for a new assistant coach as it was announced on
Saturday afternoon that Gerard Gallant was leaving the Canadiens to become the
head coach of the Florida Panthers. He will be re-united with Jonathan
Huberdeau, Florida’s first round pick in 2011, who played for Gallant with the
Saint John Sea Dogs in the QMJHL.
Gallant joined the Canadiens in the 2012 offseason as part of Michel
Therrien’s new staff. During that time, the Habs compiled a 75-42-13
regular season record while making the playoffs both years. This won’t be
Gallant’s first foray into the NHL head coaching ranks as he was behind the
bench for parts of three seasons with Columbus between 2003-04 and 2006-07.
He had a 56-71-10 as the Blue Jackets’ bench boss.
It has been widely reported that former Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma was the
frontrunner for the job at one point. However, reports suggest that his
asking price was too high. Bylsma will be collecting $2.3 million in each of
the next two years from the Penguins so it stands to reason that he was asking
for more than that.
Gallant’s departure opens the forward coaching role behind Montreal’s bench.
He also ran the powerplay at times in his two seasons. There are a few
in-house options that could replace him:
– Clement Jodoin: He’s already on the staff and could slide into Gallant’s
role. He has been a primary assistant with the Canadiens before and ran
the forwards in particular while he was the head coach with Hamilton. He
also has had a hand on the powerplay structure recently although that may very
well be a case to not give him the job.
– Sylvain Lefebvre: Hamilton’s current coach has experience behind an NHL
bench as he was an assistant coach with Colorado from 2009-10 to 2011-12.
While that experience came from him running the defence, he has run the forwards
and powerplay with the Bulldogs when they fired Ron Wilson in 2011-12.
– Stephan Lebeau: Given that he has just one season of professional coaching
experience (last year), he’s probably a longshot for the job. However, he
had a hand in running the powerplay and forward lines (though Lefebvre had the
final say on the inexplicable combinations) and could be another in-house
If none of those three get the job, it’s likely that the Habs will scour the
AHL and QMJHL to find someone to promote. Given that other teams are still
in the process of finalizing their coaching staffs, Michel Therrien and Marc
Bergevin may need to move quickly to ensure that their top candidate doesn’t get
snatched up elsewhere first.