Gallant 'disappointed and surprised' by firing, eyeing return to coaching
Bill Wippert / National Hockey League / Getty

Like many people in the world of hockey, Gerard Gallant was shocked to learn he'd been fired as head coach of the Vegas Golden Knights.

"I was quite surprised, actually, when it happened," Gallant said to the Journal Pioneer's Jason Simmonds. "You don't see something coming like that when you have two-and-a-half years in.

"I was disappointed and surprised, but I understand the hockey business and things have to change sometimes."

Gallant was surprisingly relieved of his duties earlier this week, despite Vegas' current hold on a playoff spot.

The first coach in franchise history, Gallant led the Golden Knights on an incredible run to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season. Vegas made the playoffs for the second time in as many campaigns last year, though the team bowed out in the first round.

"That first year was a magical season. If we could have capped it off winning the Stanley Cup it would have been incredible," Gallant said. "The second year was a really good year, too. We made the playoffs, battled hard.

"Up until I got fired, I had two-and-a-half years of being really happy in Vegas. It's a good organization, a good team, and I was excited."

Gallant was even named to the All-Star Game as head coach of the Pacific Division team, but he has decided to not attend. Arizona Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet will replace him.

"I was an All-Star coach a week-and-a-half ago and we were in first place in our division and then things change and we lose four in a row," Gallant said. He continued: "I talked to the NHL about it and they sort of left it up to me, but I didn't really feel comfortable (going). I just said I'd sooner pass."

The 56-year-old isn't going to let the bad news keep him from getting behind a new bench sometime soon.

"I'm far from done," he said. "I enjoy coaching. If an opportunity comes up I will definitely look at it."

Gallant is one of seven NHL coaches to be relieved of his duties this season, so a number of teams - including the Seattle expansion franchise - could be looking for a new bench boss in the near future.

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Gallant 'disappointed and surprised' by firing, eyeing return to coaching
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