It’s never easy to be classified as a slam-dunk for one of the NHL’s end-of-season awards, but Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant has managed to pull it off.
The NHL announced the finalists for the 2017-18 Jack Adams Award Wednesday, including Jared Bednar of the Colorado Avalanche, Bruce Cassidy of the Boston Bruins and, of course, the man who will likely win the award, Gallant.
So how did we get to this point? Let’s take a quick jaunt down memory lane.
Just months after being prematurely let go by the Florida Panthers (and having to find his own ride home) Gallant was announced as the first-ever head coach of the Golden Knights last April. The expansion draft, entry draft and free agency period came and went, and just about everyone, including us, thought Vegas would look the part of a first-year NHL team — a bottom-dwelling club with little to no success in its inaugural season.
And boy were we wrong.
Fast forward a few months and the Golden Knights not only clinched a playoff berth, but also clinched the Pacific Division with 109 points and a 51-24-7 record in its inaugural campaign. Vegas is now getting set to take on the San Jose Sharks in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after sweeping the Los Angeles Kings in Round 1.
Obviously there are a lot of reasons for the Golden Knights being in this position. Vegas lucked out by getting Marc-Andre Fleury in the expansion draft and having castoffs like William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault and Nate Schmidt, among many others, form an impressive core. But at the end of the day, Gallant is the glue that’s held the Golden Knights together. His relentless pursuit of immediate success has been evident throughout the season, and his speed-oriented, possession-driven system has proven to be one of the NHL’s toughest to beat.
The Golden Knights are just 12 wins away from hoisting the Stanley Cup. And it’s hard to imagine the Knights being where there are now with anyone other than Gallant on the Vegas bench.