When Gerard Gallant was hired to coach the Golden Knights on April 13, 2017, few people outside of hockey knew of him.
Fast forward to June 7. Gallant was still coaching, and though the Knights came up short in their bid to win the Stanley Cup in their inaugural season, Gallant had long since become recognizable throughout Las Vegas.
He quickly became one of the faces of the franchise.
“We had a great time this year,” Gallant said the day after the season ended. “We had an unbelievable home record. We had unbelievable fans. Every day was fun for us.
“It’s been an exceptional run, obviously. From back in October to today, it’s been unbelievable. For us to be playing until June 7th was an incredible story. We just took it one day at a time and one game at a time all year long. We fell a little bit short to the big prize. But it was an unbelievable season. We got the best out of our team, and that was really important for us.”
Gallant will need to stick around town for another week. He is the favorite to win the Jack Adams Award, which goes to the NHL’s coach of the year. The NHL Awards will be handed out June 20 at the Hard Rock Hotel. If he wins, he’ll be quick to praise his players and his staff.
“Well, I’m the head coach, but we got a lot of guys that worked hard,” he said. “Our manager and staff worked hard. All my assistant coaches worked hard. We had an easy group to coach. They are good people.”
Gallant said he never changed his coaching philosophy, even though he was working with a group of players who had never been together. But they all bought in.
“This is the way that I’ve coached, always,” he said.
“It just turned out to be an expansion team with players coming from all different teams. We got the team together the best that we could through training camp. It worked out real well. The lines came together real quickly. The character in the room came together real quickly. We didn’t make a big deal out of us being an expansion team. We made a big deal out of us getting ready to play every night, competing every night and trying to win games.
“I think for the most part we did a great job with that. That’s what happens when you work hard, compete hard and you give yourself a chance to win. You have an outstanding season like we did.
“You get that close to the prize and it really hurts,” Gallant added. “It makes you a better person for it when you go through that experience. Hopefully when we get there again sometime in the near future, that we’ll prepare better for it.”