Rumors have begun circulating around the hockey world that Saint John Sea Dogs head coach Gerard Gallant may be a candidate for the Tampa Bay Lightning’s vacant coaching position.
The mumbles began earlier this week when former Detroit Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman was named general manager of the Lightning. One of the first things required of Yzerman will be to find a head coach that is good with young and developing players – something Gallant showed the Canadian Hockey League this season in Saint John.
"I talked to Stevie (Yzerman) last week and he....had some decisions to make," Gallant said to News 88.9. "We've never talked, discussed nothing."
News 88.9 also reports that Gallant just so happened to be in the Tampa area this past week but told “The Afternoon News with Tom Young” that it was simply a coincidence.
Yzerman, who constructed Canada’s gold medal winning Olympic team, is a close friend with Gallant and were teammates for a number of years in Detroit. The Sea Dogs head coach even took time off this past season to take in Yzerman’s Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Toronto.
Naturally, Gallant would appear to be a perfect fit, forcing a number of publications to state that “Turk” is a candidate for the job posting.
“There are plenty of qualified candidates and somebody suggested to me that Yzerman might start with Gerard Gallant, coach of the year in Canadian juniors and former Red Wings teammate,” says Craig Custance of the Sporting News. “It was just an educated guess from somebody who knows Yzerman well, but it certainly makes sense. “
“Steve is the kind of guy who would like familiarity with somebody,” an NHL source told Sporting News.
The St. Petersburg Times also features Gallant as a possible candidate.
“The junior Canadian Hockey League's coach of the year after leading Saint John to a franchise-record 53 wins,” reports the Tampa Bay area newspaper. “The former Lightning left wing was Yzerman's teammate with the Red Wings from 1984-93. The two still are close.”
Yzerman and his new head coach will replace Brian Lawton and Rick Tocchet who were fired following a tough season for the Lightning.
Gallant played in 52 games with Tampa Bay over two seasons, recording four goals and nine assists.
The Summerside, Prince Edward Island native has coaching experience with both the Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Islanders of the NHL.
A rookie coach this past year with Saint John, Gallant took the Sea Dogs to within two wins of the President’s Cup. He was named both QMJHL and CHL Coach of the Year after the leading the Dogs to a franchise record 53 regular season wins.
Yzerman is in Toronto today at the NHL Draft Combine and is preparing for the entry draft which takes place on June 25-26.