OTTAWA, Ontario — Jonathan Marchessault sat in a corner locker Thursday morning, the Golden Knights forward still raw with emotion about what transpired in the previous 24 hours.
His coach had been fired.
His good friend had been sent packing in the midst of a third season.
“It’s an awful situation, just terrible,” Marchessault said of the dismissal of Gerard Gallant. “He is the reason I am an NHL player, the reason I am here. He gave me a shot in Florida. He gave me a shot with Vegas.
“We’re all professionals. We have a tight group and have to get through it together. Every guy in this room fought for (Gallant), for sure. He’s a great coach, a great guy.”
The Knights defeated the Ottawa Senators 4-2 on Thursday at Canadian Tire Centre, snapping a four-game losing streak in the debut of Peter DeBoer as coach.
At game’s end, Marchessault, as he always does after a win, picked up the puck. It was then delivered to DeBoer.
“It was a team decision,” Marchessault said. “It was obviously different for us, especially for Peter. It’s a tough situation on both sides. But we will get used to it, and we were good enough to get the win tonight.”
Gallant, who led the Knights to the Stanley Cup Final in their first season and to two playoff berths, reportedly was fired some time after the team arrived in Ottawa on Tuesday night from Buffalo.
DeBoer arrived Thursday morning, at which time he met the team and held a news conference.
“I thought it was odd at first, a little bit,” Marchessault said of the Knights hiring the former coach of their bitter rival in San Jose. “You never know what kind of coach a person is until you have him in the room. Everyone has a reputation, but it doesn’t matter if it’s positive or negative.
“It only matters what he does here.”
Been here before
Marchessault and fellow Knights forward Reilly Smith played for Gallant in Florida before joining him for the 2017 expansion season in Las Vegas.
Both also have been through such a situation before with the coach.
Gallant was fired by the Florida Panthers 22 games into the 2016-17 season, left on the side of the road and forced to call a taxi as the team bus departed for the airport without him.
But the reunion of players and coach would arrive the following season, when Marchessault was selected by the Knights in the expansion draft and Smith was traded from Florida for a fourth-round pick.
“Thirty other teams should fire their coaches and hire (Gallant),” Marchessault said. “Even when he gave you (bleep) about something, he always let you work out of it. Win or lose, he always showed up the next day ready to work and get better.
“He is an unbelievable coach. I’m sure he already has had calls about (jobs).”