Gerard Gallant enjoying time off as he awaits next NHL coaching opportunity
'Definitely I'm anxious to get back at it'
He's home for Christmas for the first time in seven years, he's spending quality time with his two young grandsons and he's even taken a few strokes off his golf game.
But 11 months after he was fired by the Vegas Golden Knights and with a new NHL season set to start next month, there's still one thing missing from Gerard Gallant's life — a coaching job.
"I've been off for almost a year now and it seems like 10 years," said the man affectionately known as Turk.
"Definitely I'm anxious to get back at it."
Gallant, 57, was interviewed for the head coach's job with the Washington Capitals that went to Peter Laviolette in September.
Seattle an obvious fit
There are no other coaching vacancies in the NHL, but there will surely be other opportunities for the Summerside native, who also coached the Columbus Blue Jackets and Florida Panthers before being named the NHL's coach of the year in 2018 for leading the Knights to the best record of any expansion team in league history.
He brings people together, the players play for him.— Former teammate Cory Micalef
One obvious fit is another expansion team, the Seattle Kraken, who will be looking for a coach when they debut in the 2021-22 season.
Cory Micalef, a fellow P.E.I. resident who played junior hockey with Gallant in Sherbrooke, Que., and in the NHL with the Detroit Red Wings, says Seattle or any NHL team would be lucky to have Gallant.
"He wins everywhere he goes," Micalef said. "He brings people together, the players play for him."
Though he remains unemployed, Gallant's not complaining, especially given what is happening in Canada and around the world with COVID-19.
He's still collecting a paycheque from the Knights until his contract runs out July 1.
He lives with his wife, Pam, in Clinton, just down the road from his daughter Melissa, son-in-law and former NHLer Darryl Boyce and his two grandsons, ages four and five.
His son, Jason, lives in Summerside and is a coach with the Western Capitals, where Gallant got his start in coaching in the 1990s.
"It's the first winter I've been here in a long time and it's been good. I'm real happy considering what the world is going through right now. I'm in a good place right now," he said.
"I've spent a lot of time with the grandkids, a lot of time golfing last summer and a lot of time playing poker with my buddies."
Not going to change
Gallant said the NHL can be a tough business, especially when you get fired, but he's not going to change who he is as a person or as a coach.
"I'll coach the way my personality is. I treat the players real well, we come into the rink, we have a lot of fun and that's what you are. I'm not going to change and try to be a Scotty Bowman or a Mike Keenan or a Jacques Demers, I'm going to be myself and that's what you have to be. You take a little bit from all the coaches you know and have played for, but you've got to be yourself when you coach."
Micalef, who is originally from Quebec, said that attitude has served Gallant well from the time they met as teenagers chasing their NHL dreams together.
"You just loved him," he said. "He was this kid from the Maritimes, so humble and down to earth, just a guy you automatically liked. But so, so competitive."