MONTREAL – Just over a week after naming their head coach, the Canadiens add another new piece to their coaching staff.
After an impressive run in the QMJHL, winning three division championships, a pair of President’s Cups and a Memorial Cup at the helm of the Saint John Sea Dogs, Gerard Gallant is making his return to the NHL with the Canadiens.
On the phone from his home in Summerside, PEI, Gallant spoke with the Montreal media about being the latest addition to the Canadiens’ coaching staff, working alongside Michel Therrien, and what he plans to bring to the table.
“My first reaction was being very excited. At the same time, I had had some interviews with other teams for assistant coaching positions, and I had to make some decisions, because those were still in progress when Montreal called and offered me the job,” explained Gallant, who had two other NHL clubs interested in his services when Marc Bergevin put an offer on the table. “I had to call the others teams back and let them know I was very happy to take a contract in Montreal, and jumped on it.
“I know Michel, but not that well,” he continued. “We played against each other both in the QMJHL and the AHL, and then we obviously crossed paths a few times when we were both coaching.”
Despite not being active in the NHL for the past three years, Gallant brings with him a more than a few seasons of experience coaching at hockey’s highest level. Couple that with a resume as one of the QMJHL’s most successful coaches in recent memory and a clear knack for working with youth, and the 48-year-old looks to be a helpful addition behind the Canadiens bench.
“I think I bring a lot experience. I coached in the NHL for seven years, three as a head coach in Columbus and then another four as assistant coach,” explained Gallant, who also boasts an 11-year NHL playing career, logging 480 points over 615 games.
“I’ve coached in the Quebec league for the last three years and had great success there. I work very well with young players and hopefully I can bring a great work ethic with me to Montreal,” added Gallant, who coached one of the Canadiens’ top prospects, Nathan Beaulieu in his time with the Sea Dogs. “I’m a guy that comes to the rink, works hard, is respectful of the people around me, and hopefully good things will happen.”
As the Canadiens continue to build their coaching staff with the 2012 draft looming on the horizon, Gallant is already looking forward to the coming weeks, working with the Canadiens and Therrien, and prepping for the team’s next campaign.
“Michel has done a great job with Pittsburgh when he was there and Montreal in the past, and I think our coaching styles and personalities are pretty similar,” he concluded. “It’ll be fun when we get together for the first time, talk about the power play and the penalty kill, and start to decide what our systems are going to be. We’re going to meet together next week at the draft so that should be great.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
Clément Jodoin joins Habs coaching staff
Canadiens sign forward Steven Quailer
Worth the wait