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Gerard Gallant Hired as First Coach of Vegas Golden Knights

USATSI_9657035_154158418_lowresGerard Gallant has been hired as the first head coach of the Vegas Golden Knights.

The 53-year-old is 152-140-31 with four ties in six NHL seasons as coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Florida Panthers. He led the Panthers to the Atlantic Division title in 2015-2016 and picked up 47 wins that season, the most in franchise history.

With the Golden Knights, Gallant will have a clean slate.

But that doesn’t mean expectations won’t be high, with owner Bill Foley stating that the expansion team would make the playoffs within three years and bring home a Stanley Cup in six. No pressure.

“[The playoffs] are going to happen, we know it’s going to happen, but we hope it is on Bill’s timetable,” Gallant said. “I take it one day at a time. We are going to work hard, we are going to build a strong organization, a strong hockey team here, and hopefully that happens. You look at the NHL today and from first to the worst, there’s not a big difference. We are going to get a lot of good hockey players.”

The Golden Knights will have an opportunity to net a lot of good players with the expansion draft in June. The club will reveal its selections on June 20 and will be a part of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft on June 23 to 24 in Chicago. General manager George McPhee will have his work cut out for him.

So far, Vegas has one player under contract in Reid Duke. The 21-year-old from Brandon in the WHL is skating with Chicago in the AHL and signed a three-year entry level deal in March.

Gallant, meanwhile, was first interviewed for the Golden Knights coaching job in mid-January. The team didn’t want to rush things, however, and McPhee went through the process before making the final call.

“…when you have time in this business, you use it, and we needed every bit of it,” said the GM. “Also, there were some people who requested we talk to them at the end of their seasons. We went through the entire process. We did it the way we wanted to and it worked out very well for us. We got the right person for this team.””

 

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