Sportsnet’s Starting Lineup
Elliotte Friedman on the Gerard Gallant firing and what that means for the Golden Knights
January 15 2020
What a weird and strange NHL season it’s been.
With no shortage of bombshells coming down, the latest was the shocking announcement that the Vegas Golden Knights had fired head coach Gerard Gallant, less than two seasons after he guided them to the Stanley Cup Final as an expansion team and just months after a controversial five-minute major flipped Vegas’ fortunes in Game 7 against the San Jose Sharks, and turned what looked like another series win into a defeat.
Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon labelled this firing as performance-based and if you only look at the standings you’ll see a Cup contender that’s lost four in a row, the most recent being a 4-2 defeat in Buffalo. At 24-19-6, Vegas’ 54 points are tied with Vancouver and Winnipeg in the Western Conference’s wild-card spots, but the Golden Knights have played two more games than both. Vegas’ .551 points percentage ranks 19th in the league.
But, as is usually the case, there’s more to the story. According to Natural Stat Trick the Golden Knights rank highly in a number of measures, and the tale of their struggles has more to do with below-average goaltending and a run of bad luck.
|STAT (5-on-5)||Percentage||LEAGUE RANK|
Gallant is a players’ coach through and through, and given his recent success it likely won’t be long before he lands on his feet with another team. John Hynes was out of work for 34 days before the Nashville Predators hired him, and Peter DeBoer was unemployed for 35 days before Vegas hired him as Gallant’s replacement. What’s a good over/under for how long Gallant will be without a job, especially given the trade deadline is 41 days away and playoff races are heating up: 19.5?
Given that, it’s time for a little exercise. Looking around the league, there are a number of struggling teams, or teams with interim head coaches, who may be suddenly very interested in the newest available head coach. When someone like Gallant is out there it can spur a team into action that otherwise may have rode out a storm and been more patient about the process.
So where might Gallant head next? Here are a few possibilities:
No doubt Jeff Blashill has been in a tough spot from Day 1 in Detroit, but this is now his fifth season behind the bench and the team’s points percentage has declined every year he’s been at the helm. It’s also notable that Blashill is not GM Steve Yzerman’s hiring, but was promoted from Detroit’s AHL team in Grand Rapids by former GM Ken Holland after Mike Babcock left the organization.
So Yzerman still has to bring in “his guy” and Gallant could be it. They’re certainly familiar with each other, as they were teammates — and even linemates at times — for nine seasons in Detroit. Gallant was able to turn the non-playoff Florida Panthers into a post-season team in one year and his work with Vegas launched him well up the NHL coach rankings.
However, Yzerman has always been supportive of Blashill as the head coach, and as recently as last week he said: “We’ve had injuries from day one of training camp. Regardless of injuries, our record and our team’s performance is somewhat unfair to pin that on the coaching staff at this point. The injuries make it really difficult to really know what you truly have.”
But the equation has potentially changed with Gallant available. No one saw this coming and it’s bound to encourage some recalculations in a number of front offices.
Bill Hartley was tough. He was followed by Glen Gulutzan, who wasn’t hard enough on the players. Gulutzan was replaced by Bill Peters as a guy who would challenge the players more, but the revelations of past abuse in Carolina abruptly ended his tenure earlier this season when the two sides parted ways. And while Geoff Ward has steadied the ship, with Calgary going 13-6-1 under his watch, the fact is he’s still got that “interim” tag attached to him. And until that is done away with, questions will be asked about who the long-term answer is behind the bench.
Gallant would be a nice middle ground to what the Flames have had behind the bench recently. He’s a players’ coach, sure, but no one is going to walk all over him. Gallant has earned the respect of his charges at each stop and his success can’t be debated. The Flames locked into contender mode and need to be doing everything they can to optimize their chances. Is Gallant too good of a replacement to pass up?
The big question, though, is how would you demote Ward back to an assistant in favour of Gallant when he’s done an admirable job navigating the Flames through incredibly stormy waters. After the Peters situation, Ward calmed everything and Calgary and won his first seven games behind the bench. That was followed by a tough 2-5-1 stretch, but Ward didn’t allow that to spiral too much and now Calgary has won five of its six games in 2020 and is just two points out of the division lead.
There’s also not a close tie between Treliving and Gallant — certainly not as close as the one between Yzerman and Gallant. So there are plenty of reasons why this may not be a fit, but if Calgary wanted to wait until the off-season to make a call, it’d probably miss out on the chance to get Gallant.
Look, we’ll label this one as a long shot as well. GM Joe Sakic is not one to rush into a major decision and he’s been very supportive of head coach Jared Bednar, especially after he retained him following the disastrous 2016-17. Since then, Colorado has made gains and now, on paper, looks like an emerging powerhouse.
But, like Vegas, the Avalanche are going through a tough stretch, losing seven of their past nine games. Also like Vegas, this appears to be more bad luck than anything, as the Avs rank third in expected goals-for percentage at 5-on-5, second in Corsi-for percentage and 21st in shooting percentage over this time. But the fact is Colorado is now third in the Central, 11 points out of first place, and just two points clear of the wild card.
It would be a shock to see them let go of Bednar, but just about every coach firing this season can be described as such. The pressure is picking up from Avs fans and if the team drops its last three games (all at home) before the all-star break, we’ll wonder if Sakic will think of making a switch.
GM Jim Nill’s Dallas Stars are one of these teams that made an abrupt decision to move on from its coach, firing Jim Montgomery for “unprofessional conduct” and replacing him with assistant Rick Bowness on an interim basis. The Stars are cruising under Bowness, however, with a 10-4-1 record, so it’s not as though he’s been struggling in the new gig.
But again we have to wonder if this is a situation that’s just too good to pass up. Bowness, hypothetically, could return to his assistant role, which is what he’s served in for most of his near-30 years behind an NHL bench. Gallant would fill the head-coach job for the long-term — and be in a position to hit the ground running with a great team — and the rising Stars would (on paper) make a relatively smooth transition.
Senior Writer Ryan Dixon and NHL Editor Rory Boylen always give it 110%, but never rely on clichés when it comes to podcasting. Instead, they use a mix of facts, fun and a varied group of hockey voices to cover Canada’s most beloved game.
For rivalry purposes, Gallant landing in San Jose would be just about perfect.
We already have the Game 7 meltdown to draw from, and the Evander Kane-Ryan Reaves stand-off is good for entertainment both on and off the ice. And remember, during the Vegas-San Jose first-round series last year DeBoer was critical of Gallant for “chirping” at his Sharks players from the bench. Ahead of that fateful seventh game, Gallant shot back:
“I really don’t want to talk about that, but I think I’m going to have to a little bit,” Gallant said. “For that clown to say that in the paper yesterday, it’s not right.”
He then explained what actually had happened:
“There might have been two incidents that happened, and I’ll tell you both incidents,” he said. “Logan Couture, I thought it was an embellishment, so I’m yelling at the referee. Not Logan Couture. The other one, in Game 2, Evander Kane, he is yelling at Ryan Reaves between the bench. Evander yells at me, he says, ‘hey coach, when are you going to send your big guy out on the ice and play him more than four minutes?’ I said, ‘he’s played 10 minutes every game and he’s going to play a lot more.’ Those are the two times. If I’m going to be a chirper and a loudmouth, I think people know me as a coach and respect me as a coach. If he’s going to yap about that, that’s a little unclassy for me.”
After the Sharks fired DeBoer a little over a month ago, assistant was promoted to the head job on an interim basis. The Sharks haven’t had the same bounce back Calgary has under their interim, though, going 6-7-2 since DeBoer was let go.
There are deeper problems in San Jose, such as a thin blue line and a goaltending tandem that has been at the bottom of the league for two years now (though we will say it’s been better of late). The Sharks trail a playoff spot by eight points right now, so while we may not get another DeBoer-Gallant playoff series this year, it would at least keep them in the same division going forward.
And if the result of all this is that Gallant and DeBoer end up switching teams? That’s just a great storyline.
It feels like Bruce Boudreau has been on the “hot seat” for two years now, first following a second Round 1 loss and then after last year’s finish outside of the playoffs. Adding to the intrigue around his future with the Wild is that he’s currently in the last year of his contract. The Wild are again tracking towards a playoff miss, currently sitting eight points out, and it may be a good time for GM Bill Guerin to make his first coaching hire.
For those reasons, Gallant could be a fit here too. While Guerin hasn’t rushed to make any moves since taking over for Paul Fenton, who was fired after just one year on the job, this roster really feels stale and in need of some turnover. They are stuck in that mushy middle — no clear way to get back to the playoffs as a contender, and too good to really sink to the bottom and draft a surefire game-changer. Maybe, the first thing Guerin should try with this group before exploring a teardown is to bring in a new voice behind the bench — and Gallant may very well be the best available right now.
Sportsnet’s Starting Lineup
Elliotte Friedman on the Gerard Gallant firing and what that means for the Golden Knights
January 15 2020
Again, this would be a shocking switch because, really, Paul Maurice has done very well through his seven seasons as the Jets’ head coach. In fact, this year may be one of his finer coaching jobs with the team. He’s tried some new things, such as moving Patrik Laine to the top line, splitting up Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele — and despite having a blue line that was devastated by off-season losses, Maurice has managed to lean on his offence (and a terrific start by Connor Hellebuyck) to keep the Jets in the playoff race.
However, like Boudreau, Maurice is believed to be in the final year of his contract so the future isn’t certain. That’s already led to rumours that the current Jets coach could wind up in Seattle, though Maurice recently stated his desire to stay in Winnipeg: “I’m here as long as Mark [Chipman] and Kevin [Cheveldayoff] want me to be here. This is home for me. I love this place. I’m not looking to go anywhere. It’ll be kicking and screaming on the way out, that’ll be how that transition happens.
But the reality is that here again is a team on the playoff bubble that could be looking to make a move. And, outside of the past two trade deadline when he moved a first-round pick for centre help, GM Cheveldayoff has traditionally been quiet on that front. Of course, he’s only ever made the one change behind the bench as well, letting go of Claude Noel for Maurice in 2013-14.
If Cheveldayoff made this call it would certainly be a surprise. But that’s what’s defined the NHL season so far, isn’t it?
The Toronto Blue Jays showed Wednesday night why they could be a dangerous wild-card team in the playoffs.
Danny Jansen hit two solo homers as the Blue Jays used a 16-hit attack and eight-run sixth inning to bulldoze the New York Yankees 14-1 at Sahlen Field. Jansen had four hits and three runs to help the Blue Jays move closer to nailing down a playoff berth.
“Putting ourselves in this spot is a great feeling,” Jansen said. “But we’ve still got work to do.”
Cavan Biggio scored three times, Randal Grichuk added a pair of runs and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., had three RBIs. Starter Robbie Ray was effective over four-plus innings and A.J. Cole threw a scoreless fifth inning for the win.
Under Major League Baseball’s expanded playoff structure, 16 teams will reach the post-season. Division winners will be seeded No. 1 through No. 3 in each league, second-place teams will be seeded fourth through sixth, and two third-place wild-card teams will get the seventh and eighth seeds.
The Los Angeles Angels, currently ninth in the AL, kept their faint playoff hopes alive earlier Wednesday with a 5-2 win over the San Diego Padres.
And then there was one! ☝️ <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/WeAreBlueJays?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#WeAreBlueJays</a> <a href=”https://t.co/druwv41Bmw”>pic.twitter.com/druwv41Bmw</a>
Facing veteran right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (3-3), the Blue Jays took advantage of a couple breaks to put up two quick runs in the first inning.
With Biggio on after a leadoff walk, Teoscar Hernandez hit a double-play ball up the middle that took an unexpected high bounce near the lip of the grass and rolled into the outfield.
Guerrero stroked a single that scored Biggio with the game’s first run. Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez tried to pick the young slugger off first base but a wide throw went down the right-field line as Hernandez trotted home.
Ray breezed through the first inning but issued two walks in the second. Gio Urshela singled to load the bases and a passed ball allowed Luke Voit to score the Yankees’ lone run.
New York loaded the bases with none out in the fifth inning. But Cole (3-0) held off the heart of the Yankees’ order by fanning Giancarlo Stanton and getting Voit — who leads the majors in homers — on an infield fly and then Gleyber Torres on a flyout.
“That was really the game,” Jansen said. “Saving that was huge for us. Bases loaded, no outs, coming in and getting that. There’s a lot of momentum swing right there.”
“That seals the deal. I am no longer a Danny Jansen fan 😤” – that baseball <a href=”https://t.co/ijJMJ3UZwV”>pic.twitter.com/ijJMJ3UZwV</a>
Toronto followed New York’s lead by putting its first three batters on base in the sixth. The Blue Jays took full advantage by batting around with a two-run single by Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and Biggio’s two-run double serving as highlight blows.
The victory came a day after New York dumped Toronto 12-1.
New York (32-24) had four hits and a season-high four errors. The Yankees have a magic number of one to secure a second-place finish in the East Division.
Ray, who was pulled after the first two batters reached in the fifth, allowed three hits, four walks and had five strikeouts. Tanaka gave up three earned runs, eight hits and three walks while striking out five.
Jansen, who went deep off Tanaka in the fourth, added another shot in the eighth off Yankees catcher Erik Kratz, giving the Toronto backstop six homers on the season.
Toronto was a wild-card entry when it last reached the post-season four years ago. The Blue Jays went on to reach the AL Championship Series for the second straight year.
Our magic number is now 1. A win tomorrow (or in any of our last four games) would put us into the playoffs.
It is nice when the other team forgets how to play baseball. The Yankees made 4 official errors and a few unofficial ones. They were just playing bad baseball all night.
We got a good start from Bob Rae (as much as it hurts the old man in me to say that 4+ innings is a good start). Through four innings he allowed just 2 hits and 3 walks with 5 strikeouts. There was an unearned run against him, scoring on a passed ball (he and Jansen got crossed up, Ray threw a fastball, Jansen thought something bendy was coming). He went to full counts too much, but he kept the Yankees off the bases.
Ray allowed a walk and a single to start off the fifth and that was it. A.J. Cole came in a gave up a walk to load the bases. Looking at the final score, it doesn’t seem like there should have been a big moment of the game on the pitching side, but this was a big moment. We were up 5-1 with Giancarlo Stanton, Luke Viot and Gleyber Torres coming up. But Cole got a strikeout, popout and fly out. It was nice to see because Cole has had a rough time of it lately.
Ross Stripling pitched the last four inning, giving up just 1 hit with 1 strikeout. He gets a save on a game we won by 13.
The MLB record for greatest run differential in a save is 27: Wes Littleton was given a save for his three innings of effective relief in the Rangers’ 30-3 win against the Orioles. https://t.co/E1I8CfV58u
— Minor Leaguer (@Minor_Leaguer) September 24, 2020
We scored 2 in the first, 1 in the third, 2 in the fourth, 8 in the sixth and 1 in the eighth. Our hitters:
Jays of the Day: Cole (.119 WPA), Vlad (.190) and Jansen (.107).
No Suckage Jays. Shaw had the low mark at -.063.
Tomorrow is our last game of this four game series against the Yankees and then we have a weekend series against the Orioles to end the season.
We had 847 comments in the GameThread. I led us to victory (and I didn’t even have a beer tonight). But I did have a nice day. I took a drive out in the country and saw the changing of the colours, while avoiding the news for a day. I’d say it was a mental health day, but there really is no mental health left.
EDMONTON — Seven seconds.
That’s how much time the puck spent on Steven Stamkos’s stick blade on this night, and perhaps that’s all it will spend there throughout the entirety of this Tampa Bay Lightning playoff run.
That’s all the hard-luck captain needed to secure his place in Stanley Cup lore. Seven freaking seconds.
Somehow, after spending 60 days as a practice-only player inside the NHL bubble and going 210 days between games, Stamkos scored the biggest goal of a career overflowing with them.
He was in full stride down the right boards when Victor Hedman hit him in the neutral zone. He blew past Esa Lindell, who defended the play poorly and managed to settle a bouncing puck in time to tuck it up under the crossbar behind Anton Khudobin.
The Lightning bench exploded. Jon Cooper said the reaction was “just a little bit louder” than any of the others during a playoff run that has included five overtime goals. The coach saw it as a sign his team wouldn’t be denied, and they weren’t while grabbing a 2-1 series lead over the Dallas Stars with a 5-2 victory Wednesday.
“It was pretty damn cool,” said Cooper.
Stamkos called it a dream come true.
Forget the unfortunate timing of the injuries that have cost him big playoff games and a chance at playing for Team Canada at the Olympics in recent years. Just being trapped inside the bubble with no guarantee of playing would be agony for someone who has given as much to the Lightning as Stamkos.
And then to get in for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, and only be able to play five shifts and score on one of them after not playing for seven months?
Hollywood might not accept that script.
“At this time of the year, you want to do anything you can to help your team win,” said Stamkos. “I’ve watched these guys be so committed to what our end goal is, and to be part of it tonight, it was a dream come true and I’m so proud of these guys. And to be able to share that moment with them and just even be on the bench and watch how well we played tonight, I have told these guys before: It’s inspiring.
“It was great to be part of.”
Quickly, the backstory: Stamkos underwent core muscle surgery on March 2 and was supposed to be recovered in time for the second round of a normal playoffs. Then we had the COVID-19 pause, he had some kind of setback while preparing for the NHL’s return to play and the Lightning have gone on a run without him.
But he’s remained a large figure in the shadows.
You could see him dousing Brayden Point with water after he scored a quintuple overtime goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Round 1 and he was summoned to the ice to help the Lightning accept the Prince of Wales Trophy after they eliminated the New York Islanders.
Everything he had to endure in order to even play for two minutes 41 seconds of Wednesday’s game has happened behind the walls. And based on the fact he sat on the bench while not taking a shift for the final 46 minutes here suggests we might not see him in uniform again for the rest of this series.
So that goal? That was something.
“He’s worked extremely hard to get back to a spot where he could play,” said Brayden Point. “Just seeing him day in and day out — the positivity that he brings, and the leadership that he brings. It’s nice to see him work that hard to get back into the lineup. And then to score one? It’s pretty inspirational for everyone.”
Added Victor Hedman: “This is how much he means to us as a teammate and as a leader and as a friend. We were just super happy for him.”
Stamkos played six games against the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2015 Final and didn’t manage to score. In this situation, the Lightning put him on the fourth line alongside Cedric Paquette (zero goals this playoffs) and Pat Maroon (one goal this playoffs) and he produced one in limited minutes before his injury forced him to become a spectator.
What happens next will determine what this means historically.
But what it meant to Stamkos and the Lightning won’t change no matter what. He’s only going to get so many chances like this one.
“It was amazing to be a part of a huge win for us,” he said. “I was just really happy to obviously contribute in a game that I didn’t play too much.”
This was a kid who used to go to shooting school twice per week and fire 500 pucks per session. That’s a skill that endured the injuries, the layoff, everything.
It made this moment possible.
Why were the PS5 and Xbox Series X pre-orders so chaotic?
ISS forced to move to avoid collision with space junk – Sky News
Highlights of today's speech from the throne – CBC.ca
ISS moves to avoid space debris – Space Daily
Tesla’s Battery Suppliers Feel Shock From Musk’s Cost-Cut Push – Bloomberg
Why is so hard to order a PS5, Xbox Series X, or RTX 3080? – The Verge
Huawei Has Sufficient Inventory of Communications Equipment – Yahoo Finance