Having had an opportunity to watch Gerard Gallant operate on a daily basis for parts of three seasons now and witnessing his expansion Vegas Golden Knights rip off 100 wins way faster than anyone expected, it's hard not to view him and his staff in positive hues.
Call us biased, but the results are black and white. Vegas is 100-59-14 since joining the NHL in 2017-18 and needed 173 games to join the century club, second-fewest in history to the Ottawa Senators (165) in 1917-18.
Two playoff appearances including a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in two seasons and a 6-3 record to begin Season 3 supports the argument Gallant is one of the top coaches in hockey.
The 56-year-old native of Summerside, P.E.I., presents a direct image. His message is consistent but it would be a mistake to represent it as simple. Gallant has a complex understanding of people, team dynamic and hockey. He delegates and holds people accountable. He searches for the best possible position for each of his players and staff and creates an environment for success infused with a pursuit of fun. Gallant wants his people to come to work and he wants them to do it with a smile on their faces. If anything could be boiled down into his credo, "Work hard and have fun," is it. Winning is the measurable byproduct.
In Vegas, Gallant has aided in creating a culture which his charges now live within. Life with the Golden Knights, on the ice and off, is clear and defined. And it works.
Gallant doesn't have a bunch of motivational signs hanging in his office. His leadership is inherent and instinctive. Still, when he's shown the following quote from baseball's Joe Maddon and asked if it mirrors his philosophy, Gallant affirms, "100 percent."
"I believe in freedom. I don't believe in over-managing. I don't believe in micromanaging. I believe in players being players, players being themselves, playing without restrictions. I never want to coach instincts out of you. I want your instincts to soar. The more you restrict freedom, the more you restrict creativity. To restrict creativity, which a lot of people do unknowingly, you are losing out on a tremendous opportunity to find out how good someone is."
Gallant, the veteran of 615 games played and 501 as a head coach in the NHL, doesn't have a lot of "me" and "I" in his game. Credit most often goes to his players. He understands the code of the dressing room better than most. Gallant is authentic in his words and actions and last season in a poll conducted by The Athletic he was voted, in a tie with Tampa's Jon Cooper, as the coach players would most like to play under.
Cliché's often become well worn due to the truth they are steeped in. "Good players make good coaches" and "Show me a good coach and I'll show you a good goalie" fall under this category. Gallant has both. A world class stopper in Marc-Andre Fleury and a lineup deep in talent. Some coaches get in the way. Not Gallant. He has the reins firmly in hand but he doesn't over-coach. He lets his players breathe and self-correct. When the hammer is needed, he's got it and knows how to use it.
Players and coaches fit into different scenarios for lots of reasons. Gallant fits the Golden Misfits just perfectly.