Gerard Gallant said he’s excited to coach again, but won’t use his role as coach for Canada at the 2021 IIHF World Championship to audition for a job in the NHL.
Gallant was named to the post on Wednesday. The tournament will be his first time coaching since he was fired as coach of the Vegas Golden Knights on Jan. 15, 2020.
“I’m not worried about that one bit,” Gallant said of potentially returning to the NHL. “I want to get back to work. I want to get back to coaching in hockey and doing the things that you’re used to doing every day. I haven’t had that opportunity for quite a while, with the COVID, a little bit of [other] reasons. … So I’m just going over there to coach Team Canada and try and win a gold medal. That’s my role, and have a lot of fun. Get back into it and watch some video, watch some games and get back into coaching, get on the ice and get practicing again.
“I haven’t had a lot to be excited about for the last 12 or 13 months, but when they called me last week and give me the opportunity, it’s been a different jump in your step, you feel good about it. I’m looking forward to working with some good people.”
The World Championship is scheduled to be played May 21-June 6, in Riga, Latvia.
Gallant was the first coach of the Golden Knights and guided Vegas to the Stanley Cup Final in 2017-18, where it lost to the Washington Capitals in five games. He won the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year in 2018, and as coach of the Florida Panthers in 2015-16, finished second in voting to Barry Trotz.
The 57-year-old is 270-216-51 with four ties in 541 NHL games for the Columbus Blue Jackets, Panthers and Golden Knights.
The Seattle Kraken, who begin play as the 32nd NHL franchise next season, have yet to hire a coach, and the Montreal Canadiens (Dominique Ducharme replacing Claude Julien) and Buffalo Sabres (Don Granato replacing Ralph Krueger) each have made coaching changes this season. Other teams could look to make changes after the season.
“If the right thing comes up, hopefully get back at it,” Gallant said. “This is the first thing that came up and I jumped at the opportunity.”
This will be Gallant’s first time as coach at the World Championship. He was an assistant when Canada won the tournament in 2007, and when it finished second in 2017.
Mike Kelly and Andre Tourigny were named as Gallant’s assistants.
Kelly was an assistant under Gallant with Florida and Vegas.
Tourigny coached Canada to a second-place finish at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship, and will return as coach for the 2022 WJC. He also is coach of Ottawa in the Ontario Hockey League.
“Real good people, good guys and they’ll do a great job for us,” Gallant said. “Real good top-end coaches.”
Roberto Luongo, who played for Gallant with the Panthers (2014-17), was named general manager for Canada on April 20.
“We are fortunate to lean on the professional and executive experience that all three gentlemen will bring as Canada gets set for the IIHF World Championship in Latvia,” Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney said. “Gerard and Mike have worked together both at the NHL and junior level and have an understanding of what it takes to compete and win. Andre complements them with his extensive coaching resume and recent experience at the World Juniors.
“We believe we have selected a group that will build on each other’s strengths and provide exceptional leadership, with input from Roberto and the Olympic management group, as our team prepares to compete for a gold medal.”
Canada will play in Group B at the 16-team tournament, along with Finland, the United States, Germany, Latvia, Norway, Italy and Kazakhstan. Group A consists of Russia, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Slovakia, Denmark, Belarus and Great Britain.
Canada finished second at the 2019 World Championship. The 2020 tournament was canceled due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.