Just because the NHL season has hit pause does not mean the New Jersey Devils’ head coaching search needs to.
Gerard Gallant, fired mid-season by the Vegas Golden Knights, has interviewed for the Devils job in recent weeks. The news was first reported by Pierre LeBrun and has been confirmed by Sportsnet.
Devils interim coach Alain Nasreddine, who took the reins from the fired John Hynes on Dec. 3, still remains a contender for the position as well.
Regardless if the 2019-20 regular season can be salvaged from the COVID-19 pandemic, New Jersey’s interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald is overseeing a lottery-bound franchise and working with an eye toward 2020-21.
“My job is to lead the hockey ops department until told otherwise,” Fitzgerald said on an April 16 conference call. “All I’m trying to do right now is continue to do the job and not think of the what-ifs, because I just think that can’t muddy the waters and distract an individual.”
A hockey lifer, Gallant was stunned by his firing, which came after two-and-a-half successful seasons with the Knights, with the club still firmly in the Pacific Division hunt. He was slated to coach the division’s all-star squad at the time.
The 56-year-old has amassed an NHL career record of 270-216-4-51 as bench boss of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers, and Golden Knights.
Gallant memorably guided the Knights to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final in the franchise’s inaugural campaign. After he and assistant Mike Kelly were fired on Jan. 15, Gallant was replaced in Vegas by Peter DeBoer.
“I’m far from done,” Gallant told the Journal Pioneer shortly after his dismissal. “I enjoy coaching.
“If an opportunity comes up, I will definitely look at it — myself and Mike. Mike is a big part of what I do too, and sometimes people forget about the assistant coaches. Mike is a good man. We have been together for a long time.
“It’s not just me. Mike is part of that, too. We will get ready and hopefully something comes up.”
Under Nasreddine, Hynes’s longtime assistant coach, the Devils went 19-16-8 leading up to the pause.