Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant is trying to make a second consecutive deep run in the Stanley Cup playoffs at a time when the team he played for most of his career is struggling near the bottom of the league.
But Gallant said he thinks the Detroit Red Wings might have found the right man to help resurrect the proud franchise, which has missed the postseason three straight years. The team announced the hiring of Hall of Fame player Steve Yzerman as its general manager Friday.
“He’s a first-class guy and a real good friend,” Gallant said. “He’ll do a good job wherever he is.”
Gallant knows Yzerman well.
The forwards were teammates for nine years in Detroit and played — along with Paul MacLean — on the highest-scoring line in team history in 1988-89, when Gallant had 39 goals and 54 assists and Yzerman had 65 goals and 155 points.
After eight successful years as general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Yzerman resigned before this season began. He had been a part of the front office in Detroit after his playing career, but he left in 2010 when it became clear there was no immediate path to the GM position.
Now he has returned to the franchise for which he became a star, one that has won 11 Stanley Cups, the most recent one in the 2007-08 season.
Yzerman “had a great run in Tampa Bay,” Gallant said. “He’s done a hell of a job. Whatever happened there, I don’t know. Going back to Detroit, he’s pretty familiar with that place. That’s home for him.”
Yzerman inherits a young core, a stockpile of draft picks and cap space. The Red Wings recently signed coach Jeff Blashill to a two-year contract extension that runs through the 2020-21 season.
Carr wins MVP
Knights prospect Daniel Carr was voted the winner of the Les Cunningham Award as the MVP of the American Hockey League. He had 30 goals and 71 points in 52 games for the Chicago Wolves.
Carr won the award despite missing the final 18 games of the season with an injury and six more games while with the Knights.
The 27-year-old was fourth in the AHL with a plus-35 rating and has 161 points in 191 games in the league.
Carr has 15 goals and 20 assists in 100 NHL games, including a goal he scored for the Knights in November against the Chicago Blackhawks.
San Jose forward Tomas Hertl scored two goals Thursday and has four in the Western Conference quarterfinal series against the Knights, but his postgame “guarantee” that the Sharks would win Game 6 dominated social media.
Hertl wasn’t as adamant when speaking to reporters Friday in San Jose.
“I already saw (the reaction), and everybody’s asking now,” he said. “I said I believe in this team because I think we showed twice how good we can play. But I believe we can come back. For sure, not guaranteed, but I can guarantee that everybody will put everything in the game in Vegas and try and come back.
“We know it will be really hard, but we’re ready for this challenge. We want to show that we can beat them there, too.”
The Knights lead the best-of-seven series 3-2. Game 6 will be played Sunday at T-Mobile Arena.