Two years after getting crudely fired by the Golden Knights, Gerard Gallant turns the Rangers into Stanley Cup Contenders
In January 2020, Gerard Gallant was fired by the Las Vegas Golden Knights. Never mind his 118-75-20 record in three seasons with the Golden Knights – the best win percentage ever for any expansion team. Never mind that Gallant led the newbie Knights into the Stanley Cup finals, and made the playoffs in each of his two seasons.
Gallant's remarkable coaching feat cannot be overstated. He took an expansion draft of players, somehow getting them to pass the chemistry test and turning them into a regular-season juggernaut that went all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals before losing to the Washington Capitals. It was, and will remain, one of the most legendary first-season runs for a team, and Gallant deserves multitudes of credit for that -- especially after the insulting way his tenure in Florida ended.
Nonetheless, Gallant was gone. His firing was classless, and turns out, a mistake.
Enter – Enter Peter DeBoer. Prior to taking over in Las Vegas, he had a career NHL coaching record of 415-329-111 with three teams – the Florida Panthers, New Jersey Devils and Sharks. DeBoer led the latter two teams to the Stanley Cup Final, but lost both times. This pedigree wasn't necessarily a decline from Gallant, but it certainly wasn't an improvement either. Actually, what it turned out to be was a gamble – that lost.
So, what's happened since?
Well, the Golden Knights just finished their first year in four seasons out of the playoffs. Las Vegas was dismal in the later half of the season. They ended up with the 9th-best record in the Western Conference, a far cry from the Gallant golden days. The team often looked uninspired, and yes – even poorly coached.
As for Gallant, after getting hired in July 2021, he's taken a floundering franchise and turned them into one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. Gallant's New York Rangers posted 11o points (tied for third best in the East) and a 52-24-6 record.
So, while the Golden Knights and their loyal fans have fallen victim to an idiotic team owner and several front office mishaps (letting Marc-André Fleury go was imbecilic), Gallant is grinning ear to ear and about to enter the playoffs with loads of confidence and a team that believes in his system.
Gerard Gallant gets the last laugh. Good for him.