In a shocking, seemingly out-of-nowhere move, the Vegas Golden Knights have fired Gerard Gallant — the only head coach in the fledgling franchise’s history.
Even stranger news, perhaps, is that the Golden Knights have immediately replaced Gallant with Peter DeBoer, who was let go from his position with the rival San Jose Sharks earlier this season.
#VGK announce coach Gerard Gallant has been fired, replaced by Peter DeBoer.— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) January 15, 2020
The Golden Knights have dropped four straight contests and currently hold fourth place in the Pacific, but the team sat in top spot just over a week ago, are tied in points for the final wild-card spot in the West, and are just three points behind Arizona for first in the division. The club’s four consecutive regulation losses — their worst stretch of the season so far — was preceded by a four-game winning streak.
The 2017-18 Jack Adams Award winner as the NHL’s coach of the year, Gallant has posted a 118-75-20 record over his two-and-a-half seasons behind Vegas’s bench, for a .601 points percentage and a .595 winning percentage — both exceptional, especially for an expansion franchise.
Gallant also unfathomably led the Golden Knights to a Stanley Cup final appearance during the team’s first year of existence. All things considered, yeah, this firing is extremely weird, quite confusing, and is leaving the hockey community to speculate potential reasons for the stunning move.
With the recent slew of coaches being disciplined or ousted due to accusations and incidents of verbal and physical abuse, among other things, Golden Knights insider Gary Lawless is reporting that Gallant’s firing is performance based and nothing else.
It’s a shame to have to say this because Gerard Gallant is such a good person full of respect and humility. But for those asking, this was entirely performance based.— gary lawless (@garylawless) January 15, 2020
Despite the recent slide, Vegas remains near the top of the NHL in manny offensive metrics, including expected goals (2nd, 54.8%), Corsi for (3rd, 53.6%), shot share (3rd, 53%), and scoring chances for (2nd, 55.9%). The team’s goals for and goals against numbers, however, are both slightly below average.
The Golden Knights’ ability to generate a good chunk more offense than it allows is unquestionably still elite, but a combination of bad puck luck and a lack of finishing touch has the Golden Knights struggling to cash in on their chances this season — they’re shooting under nine percent while posting a below average team save percentage of .900 — resulting in the league’s third-worst PDO.
Basically, the team’s recent (bad) luck and inability to score on a consistent basis, combined with its goaltenders’ inability to keep the puck out of the net at a league-average rate was Gallant’s demise, fair or not.
And getting replaced, literally within minutes, by his most bitter coaching rival — a counterpart with whom Gallant has had some intense and memorable coach-on-coach verbal altercations with over the past year — is just so cold.
This league is ruthless, man.
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