In a span of two weeks, there have been three coaching changes in the NHL.
Couple that with Bill Peters “resigning” from the Calgary Flames on Nov. 29, two coaches from the Pacific Division have been relieved of their duties in the span 13 days. There has been a revolving door of coaching changes for the past couple of years.
More specifically, coaching turnover has been aplenty since the Vegas Golden Knights entered the league.
With DeBoer’s firing on Wednesday, five of the eight teams in the Pacific Division have made a change at head coach since the Golden Knights played their first NHL game in October 2017:
- Anaheim Ducks - Randy Carlyle (fired Feb. 10)
- Calgary Flames - Glen Gulutzan (fired April 17, 2018)
- Edmonton Oilers - Todd McClellan (fired Nov. 20, 2018)
- Los Angeles Kings - John Stevens (fired Nov. 4, 2018)
- San Jose Sharks - Peter DeBoer (fired Wednesday)
The three remaining are Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet, Vancouver Canucks coach Travis Green, and Gallant. All three began their coaching tenures with their respective teams in the 2017-18 season.
Here we are, in Year 3 of Golden Knights hockey with this realization: There’s a chance Gallant could be the longest-tenured coach in the Pacific Division in the next few years.
The Coyotes move to the Central Division when Seattle begins play in 2021-22. If Arizona continues on this trajectory (currently second in the Pacific behind Edmonton entering Thursday), it’ll be hard to keep Tocchet out of Arizona in the next year or two.
Green has the Canucks three points behind Vegas for the second wild card in the Western Conference. He’s the leader of a young, talented team. They might be a year away from getting to the playoffs, but they have the talent to get in this year. I don’t think Green would be fired if Vancouver missed the playoffs this year; maybe next year with escalated expectations unless the arrow keeps pointing upward.
That leaves Gallant, the Jack Adams Award winner in 2018 and the coach who is 2-for-2 in leading the Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup Playoffs ... with a realistic chance of a third year in a row. Take those factors into account with Green and Tocchet, and there’s a realistic possibility that Gallant could be the longest-tenured coach in the Pacific come 2021.
What kind of alternate universe are we living in that a coach of the newest franchise in the league can outlast everybody?
Entering Thursday’s game against the St. Louis Blues, the Golden Knights have an all-time record of 110-68-19. Gallant has spent two-plus seasons unlocking the potential out of a group of castoffs. He’s built the reputation of being a players coach, a trait he hangs his hat on with this recent news of coaching misconduct.
“You’re not coaching against your players. You’re coaching with your players,” Gallant said on Saturday. “We’re all together. I think if you ask my players what type of coach I am, I think they feel like I’m a teammate of theirs. I can’t comment on anyone else but that’s the way I work.”