Saturday, May 28, 2011

GALLANT NAMED CHL'S BEST

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – For the second straight year, Saint John Sea Dogs head coach Gerard Gallant has been named the Canadian Hockey League’s top coach.

Gallant was awarded the Brian Kilrea CHL Coach of the Year Award today in Mississauga at the annual awards banquet. Jacob DeSerres was up for Goaltender of the Year and Simon Despres for Defenseman of the Year but both came away empty handed.

It’s the second straight year that the former Detroit Red Wings tough guy has won the honour. He claimed the trophy last season – his first year as head coach – after helping the Sea Dogs go 53-13-1-2 record in the regular season and guided the team to the league final.

This season, Saint John had one of the greatest seasons in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League history. They went 58-7-1-2 in the regular season, lost just three games en route to their first President’s Cup win, and will play in the Memorial Cup championship game tomorrow.

The honour is certainly well deserved.

Now the question becomes – will he return to the Sea Dogs bench next season or will a National Hockey League team come knocking?

As Willy Palov noted in his Chronicle Herald column on Friday, his 111-19-2-4 regular season record and that fact that he has put the Sea Dogs into back-to-back President’s Cup finals have to have gotten him noticed by NHL brass.

Gallant spoke about possibly moving back to the NHL to the CBC, saying:

"I'm not going to jump at something that doesn't feel comfortable to me," he said at the Memorial Cup tournament in Mississauga, Ont. "I'm not going to lose any sleep if I stay in Saint John next year or the next five years."

"I'm just like the players — if I get an opportunity and it's the right thing, I'm going to go."
‘Turk’ already has NHL coaching experience with the Columbus Blue Jackets and the New York Islanders.

Last summer, there were some rumblings that Gallant would land in Tampa Bay because of his relationship with Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman. Guy Boucher was eventually hired in Tampa and helped the Lightning reach the Eastern Conference final.

There are plenty of NHL coaching vacancies - Minnesota, New Jersey, Dallas, Ottawa and Florida – and you have to think that he is at least in the conversation for one of those jobs.

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