PEI

Don Cherry, others surprised and shocked at Gerard Gallant firing

Hockey commentator Don Cherry and others are expressing surprise about P.E.I. native Gerard Gallant's firing as head coach of the Florida Panthers.

'I just couldn't believe it. He was up for coach of the year last year'

Summerside, P.E.I., native Gerard Gallant spent two seasons with the Florida Panthers, and did a 'great job' says Don Cherry. (CBC)

Hockey commentator Don Cherry is surprised to hear Summerside's Gerard Gallant has been fired as the coach of the Florida Panthers, saying Gallant was doing a "great job."

Gallant went from hero to zero Sunday night, after the Panthers' 3-2 loss to Carolina dropped them to 10th in the Eastern Conference — quite a difference from the division title to which Gallant guided the team last season. 

But Cherry doesn't believe that's reason to fire Gallant, a move that was confirmed by the NHL Monday morning.

"I just couldn't believe it. He was up for coach of the year last year," Cherry told CBC Radio: Island Morning co-host Mitch Cormier. 

"Absolutely ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous, I really don't think the people know what they're doing down in Florida."

'No class'

And Cherry's not the only one expressing surprise. Many people took to social media to air their opinions.

The Panthers are now sitting at 11 wins, 10 losses and 1 overtime loss tie this year. 

Gallant has declined CBC P.E.I.'s request for a comment. 

General manager Tom Rowe is taking over coaching duties. 

"My focus is solely on turning our season around, fixing our special teams and securing a playoff berth," Rowe said in a statement released by the team.

"Today is a hard day. Gerard and Mike are good men and talented hockey coaches," said Dale Tallon, the president of hockey operations for the Panthers. "We thank them for their contributions in the community, for their work developing our young players and in helping to turn around the culture."

Some pundits are speculating Gallant and assistant coach Mike Kelly, also from P.E.I., could quickly find work with other NHL franchises such as the new team in Las Vegas or the New York Islanders.

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