Sunday’s game between the Golden Knights and the Vancouver Canucks featured the two longest-tenured coaches in the Pacific Division.
“That’s not a good thing,” Knights boss Gerard Gallant said.
That’s because it didn’t take long for Gallant to earn seniority. His April 13, 2017 hire date beats the Canucks’ Travis Green by 13 days, but Sunday was only his 200th game with his current team. Three of the division’s eight teams made coaching changes this offseason, and another two — the Calgary Flames and San Jose Sharks — shook things up midseason.
Peter DeBoer, who was hired May 28, 2015, was previously the division’s oldest hand before the Sharks fired him Wednesday.
“It’s unbelievable what’s going on,” Gallant said.
Gallant, of course, is no stranger to the brutal nature of his profession. He was fired 22 games into his third season with the Florida Panthers on Nov. 27, 2016, after being a finalist for the Jack Adams Award (best coach) the year before.
That setback didn’t keep him down for long. He got back in the game soon after and his experienced hand was a major reason behind the Knights’ early success. Several of his former colleagues will now look to follow his example.
“Guys enjoy playing for him,” right wing Mark Stone said. “He’s fair and he’s honest. That’s all you can ask for from a coach. To be fair, to be honest and put a plan in place that guys can get on board with. That’s been the MO since I’ve been here.”
Winding down 2019
Including Sunday, six of the Knights’ last eight games of 2019 are against division opponents. They entered Sunday 7-3-1 against the Pacific and 10-10-4 against everyone else.
“We want to find ways to move up (in the standings),” Stone said. “If we can start to string some wins together, I like our chances.”
■ Center Cody Eakin appeared on the City National Arena bench and in the locker room Sunday, but Gallant said he remains week to week with an upper-body injury. Eakin will likely not play Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild, and Gallant said he was unsure whether the veteran will go on the Knights’ two-game trip later this week.
■ Gallant said rookie center Cody Glass is still day to day with an upper-body injury he suffered Dec. 8 against the New York Rangers.
■ Rookie defenseman Nic Hague participated in the Knights’ morning skate Sunday but was scratched for the third straight game due to an illness.
Hire date of Pacific Division coaches
(Record with current team through Friday)
Golden Knights’ Gerard Gallant: April 13, 2017 (111-69-19)
Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Green: April 26, 2017 (82-89-26)
Arizona Coyotes’ Rick Tocchet: July 11, 2017 (87-88-24)
Los Angeles Kings’ Todd McLellan: April 16, 2019 (13-18-3)
Edmonton Oilers’ Dave Tippett: May 28, 2019 (18-13-4)
Anaheim Ducks’ Dallas Eakins: June 17, 2019 (14-15-4)
Calgary Flames’ Geoff Ward: Nov. 29, 2019 (6-1-0)
San Jose Sharks’ Bob Boughner: Dec. 11, 2019 (1-1-0)