Betting on Vegas paying off for NHL coach Gerard Gallant
Summerside, P.E.I. native is coaching an expansion team for the second time in his career
The Vegas Golden Knights became the first NHL expansion team with seven victories in their first eight games after beating the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2 on Tuesday.
Head coach and Summerside, P.E.I., native Gerard Gallant says he knows the season is long and there may be difficult stretches ahead, but the 7-1 start is a boost to players' confidence.
"It's been a great start for our team and everything's going real well, we're playing well," Gallant said.
"As long as you're winning you're happy and right now we're having fun."
We're trying to do the best we can, we're trying to be as competitive as we can every game and we know there's going to be some tough patches, like every NHL team goes through every year.- Gerard Gallant, head coach, Vegas Golden Knights
Gallant knows all too well how difficult a bad start can be for an expansion team. He was the assistant coach in Columbus in their first year in the league when they started 1-7 in their first eight games. It took 19 games before they accumulated seven wins.
'A bunch of good people'
Gallant said one of the difficulties with an expansion team is that none of the players have played with each other before. He credits the character of the players on his team with the impressive start.
"We knew it was going to be a job in training camp to make sure they had time to get to know each other," he said.
"I think the big thing is, our group is a bunch of good people."
He said the expansion draft format helped produce a better roster for the Golden Knights than in years past.
"We've got more experience than most of the other expansion teams and that's why we got off to a good start and I think that with the leadership guys we've got in our group it makes it that much easier," he said.
"There's big name players here and there's guys when they show up at the rink they're ready to play."
'One day at a time'
Gallant may be enjoying the quick start for his team, but he isn't letting the early-season success get to his head.
"We're trying to do the best we can, we're trying to be as competitive as we can every game and we know there's going to be some tough patches, like every NHL team goes through every year," he said.
"We just take one day at a time, and you know you try and enjoy the days off when you get them, but for the most part we're just at the rink working, getting ready for the next one."
He also said bringing hockey to Las Vegas has been a good experience so far.
"It's really exciting actually, I mean we've got a full house every game so far," Gallant said.
"The fans are very excited and I think most of them are very knowledgeable hockey people, they know when to cheer, they know when to clap for the home team and so far it's been outstanding."
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With files from CBC: Island Morning