Hextall on Hockey: Familiar feeling to coaching changes

Gallant fired from Vegas.

…Come again?

This is a head coach that took the expansion Vegas Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup final in their inaugural season, won the Jack Adams Award, and is a coach in this year’s All-Star Game.

But Gerard Gallant is out and Pete DeBoer – who was dismissed just a month ago from San Jose – is in.

The rationale from Vegas GM Kelly McCrimmon on the coaching change came down to the fact that, from a managerial standpoint, he felt the team hadn’t lived up to its potential.

But then I revisited the first time I ever covered a head coach being fired, and it made more sense.

It was 2004, when I was in Brandon covering the WHL, when then-Wheat Kings coach Mike Kelly – yes, the same Mike Kelly who was fired as assistant coach along with Gallant on Wednesday – was relieved of his duties by the owner and general manager of the junior franchise… Kelly McCrimmon.

Brandon was tied for third in the East Division at the time and in a playoff spot, but McCrimmon said 2004 had been a season where the Wheat Kings had continually failed to play to their potential.

The same words were used by McCrimmon to explain his dismissal of Gallant – an instinct, a feeling, a gut check that a move must be made.

After the coaching change, the 2004 Wheat Kings went on to make the playoffs before losing out in the second round to the eventual WHL champion Medicine Hat Tigers.

As for the coaching change in Vegas, we’ll have to wait and see if the GM hits the jackpot or cashes out early.

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