DETROIT – The last time the Detroit Red Wings were as bad as they are right now was back in 1985-86 when the team finished with a 17-57-6 record.
Gerard Gallant and Steve Yzerman were both on that team. In fact, they were linemates at one point. That terrible season was Gallant’s second in Detroit. He still notched 39 points in 52 games played.
Gallant played the next seven seasons with the Red Wings until he finished his career with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He moved to coaching after his playing career ended. His first NHL head coaching job was with a really bad Columbus Blue Jackets team. His second was with a decent Florida Panthers squad that he helped push into the playoffs. He was fired before he could get the Panthers rolling again in 2016.
The Vegas Golden Knights gladly hired him as their first head coach in franchise history. Gallant coached the Knights to the Stanley Cup finals that year, winning the Jack Adams Award for best NHL coach without much question.
This season, Vegas has struggled to stay in a playoff spot. The latest four-game losing streak was apparently enough for Kelly McCrimmon to fire Gallant and hire Peter DeBoer, who had just been fired from his job in San Jose -- it’s been a tough season for NHL coaches.
Gallant back to Detroit?
I’ve stayed away from the “Fire Jeff Blashill” talk as much as possible this season because it just seems pointless. As I’ve said before, firing the coach during a season that you know is a total tank-fest can’t do much to change things. I mean, unless the guy is hated by the roster. That doesn’t appear to be the case for Blashill, and overall those close to the team seem to have good things to say about him and his work with young developing players.
But what if someone else becomes available? Someone you really wouldn’t want to pass up on (again). Gallant will have no problem getting another job behind an NHL bench. He’s a respected figure around the league. He’s known as a player’s coach while retaining an old-school edge. He has a history of helping teams put together winning formulas.
Is it time for GM Yzerman to bring back his old teammate as the new Red Wings coach? Yes, that would mean firing Blashill before the season ends.
Gallant could be the person Yzerman needs to help right this ship. He’s a bit of contrast from Blashill. Remember, this is Blashill’s first NHL head coaching job. He does not have the professional playing background that someone like Gallant has, either. If anything, Gallant would bring a fresh perspective and new voice to the Detroit room.
It might be time to make the move now that he’s available. He’ll be getting a healthy number of other calls, no doubt.