Golden Knights made Gallant choice for head coach
June 20, 2017 3:04 AM
by Mark Mayer
Presenting five good minutes with the dapper Gerard Gallant.
That’s what you fight for when interviewing the coach of the Vegas Golden Knights when any announcement the first-year NHL team makes understandably draws cameras, TV and microphones.
Gallant was part of the gathering last Tuesday at the 3rd Street Stage, roughly a two-line pass across from the D Las Vegas where that casino/resort’s owner Derek Stevens announced a $100,000 contribution for junior hockey and six-year commitment as host site for team apparel, player promotions and just about anything else black and gold
Gallant was unfairly cast aside by the Florida Panthers despite leading them to a club record 47 wins and 103 points in 2015-16 and producing an 11-10-1 record the day of his release this past season right after Thanksgiving. He neatly dodged the initial question regarding how long his contract is with Vegas, but upon redirect did say “it is more than one season.”
South Beach’s loss is downtown and the Strip’s gain.
“The gambling is absolutely no concern to me,” said Gallant, who bares a striking resemblance to actor Michael Chiklis, the Chicago mob casino boss from the short-lived “Vegas” television series on CBS that aired in 2012 and depicted Sin City during the 1960’s under iconic Sheriff Ralph Lamb.
The new “sheriff” in Vegas would have played the Chiklis role well, having averaged over 200 penalty minutes in a distinguished career that saw him score at least 30 goals five straight seasons. His best production came as a member of the Detroit Red Wings, which happens to be how the D got its name.
“The game has changed since my day,” Gallant said. “Today everyone can skate. I might have had more trouble playing in the NHL today. In my day, there was a lot more holding.”
Gallant’s philosophy is playing every game all out with no timetable as far as total wins go.
“It’s about coming to play every night,” he said. “At the end of the year we will assess how things are. I love the town, the weather is awesome and the guys will be playing golf just like they do in California.”
And what of the distractions like gambling?
“No problem at all,” Gallant said. “I like to gamble, but not big. My wife handles the big gambling.”
The Golden Knights have three years as the only pro sports team in Las Vegas until the NFL Raiders arrive. It’s a nice honeymoon period, but by 2020 a lot of questions will be answered as to what type of hockey town Vegas is. We definitely know football is king, especially with the many Raiders fans already here.
“If we show we can get better every year there will be no problem with the Raiders here,” Gallant said. “This is a great sports town.”
There has been much speculation that Pittsburgh goalie Marc Andre Fleury could be the Golden Knights’ first selection in the expansion draft this week, especially since he said the no-trade clause in his contract with the Penguins would be waived if chosen by Las Vegas.
But that is far from a given on either side.
“That’s management’s decision not mine,” Gallant said. “We will take the best available player.”
You can bet at least that Gallant will have a say in the matter. And that’s a lot more than the Panthers gave him.
ENCORE: The Golden Knights will play seven preseason games, the first four on the road beginning with the opener Sunday, Sept. 17 against the Canucks in Vancouver. The final three games will be at T-Mobile Arena. Here is the remaining list: Sept. 19 at Colorado; 21 at San Jose; 24 at Anaheim; 26, LOS ANGELES; 28, COLORADO; Oct. 1, SAN JOSE.