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Panthers fire coach Gerard Gallant

Florida is 11-10-1 this season; general manager Tom Rowe named interim coach

NHL.com @NHL

The Florida Panthers fired coach Gerard Gallant on Sunday. 

"I've been let go," Gallant told NHL.com prior to leaving PNC Arena in a taxi following a 3-2 loss against the Carolina Hurricanes. 

General manager Tom Rowe was named interim coach for the remainder of the 2016-17 season.

In addition to Gallant, assistant coach Mike Kelly also was fired.

"In seeking to earn a second consecutive playoff berth and bring a Stanley Cup to South Florida, we believe that new leadership is required immediately," Panthers owner Vincent Viola told the Panthers website.

The Panthers, who won the Atlantic Division with a franchise record 47 wins and 103 points last season, are 11-10-1 after 22 games.

"My focus is solely on turning our season around, fixing our special teams and securing a playoff berth," Rowe said.

Gallant was in his third season as Panthers coach. He finished second in the Jack Adams Trophy voting last season after he guided the Panthers to their most successful regular season with 47 wins and 103 points. Gallant received 20 first-place votes and 203 points in the voting, 141 behind winner Barry Trotz of the Washington Capitals and 128 ahead of third-place Lindy Ruff of the Dallas Stars.

Video: Friedman on the firing of Panthers head coach Gallant

Last season, Gallant became one of four coaches to guide the Panthers to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, joining Kevin Dineen, Terry Murray and Doug MacLean. Florida lost to the New York Islanders in six games in the first round of 2016 playoffs.

"Today is a hard day," Panthers president Dale Tallon said. "Gerard and Mike are good men and talented hockey coaches. We thank them for their contributions in the community, for their work developing our young players and in helping to turn around the culture."

Gallant was 96-65-25 with the Panthers. He was hired on June 21, 2014 and signed a two-year contract through the 2018-19 season last January while in the midst of a franchise-record 12-game winning streak.

In his first season in 2014-15, Gallant guided the Panthers to a 38-29-15 record and 91 points, a 25-point improvement over the previous season. 

Gallant's first head-coaching tenure also ended in the middle of a season; after taking over as coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets midway through the 2003-04 season, Gallant was replaced after 15 games in 2006-07. The Blue Jackets were 56-76-10 with Gallant as coach. 

This marks the sixth time in the Panthers' 23-year history they have made an in-season coaching change. It previously happened in 2013-14 when Peter Horachek replaced Dineen after 16 games.

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