Gerard Gallant is the new coach of the Florida Panthers, general manager Dale Tallon announced Saturday.
Gallant replaces interim coach Peter Horacek, who was let go in April after taking over when Kevin Dineen was fired in November.
"We are pleased to welcome Gerard as the new head coach of the Florida Panthers," Tallon said in a statement. "He is an individual with tremendous character, integrity and a strong passion for the game and has experience as an NHL head coach. Gerard is an excellent teacher and motivator who possesses the leadership qualities and hockey knowledge that are necessary to lead our team."
Florida Panthers hire Gallant
Gallant, 50, spent the past two seasons as an assistant with the Montreal Canadiens
. Prior to that, he was coach of the Saint John Sea Dogs in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League where, along with Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau
, he won the QMJHL championship twice and the Memorial Cup in 2011.
"It's good to be reunited with him and I think things are going to be good with him here," Huberdeau told the Miami Herald on Saturday.
"I'm excited for this. He's a guy who is intense and into the game. He keeps you up throughout the game. I think the guys are going to react to him. He wants what is best for the players."
Gallant spent parts of three seasons as coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets. He was 56-81-4-6 and missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs in his only full season. He has been an assistant with the Blue Jackets, New York Islanders and Canadiens.
"Obviously we are disappointed to see an individual like Gerard Gallant leave our organization, but on behalf of the management team and the entire coaching staff I would like to wish Gerard the best of luck as the new head coach of the Florida Panthers," Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said in a statement. "Over the past two years, Gerard has been a valuable asset for us and contributed to the success of our team."
Florida finished 29-45-8 last season and holds the first pick in the 2014 NHL Draft on Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS). Gallant, an 11-season NHL veteran player, will be formally introduced at a press conference Monday.
"He's had success with young players and we're going to be a young team with a nice group of veterans to go with them," Tallon told the Miami Herald. "I think he's equipped to handle both."