Capitals

Why Gallant is the 'perfect fit' as Caps' next head coach

Capitals

Following a disappointing first-round exit from the playoffs for the second straight season, the Capitals fired coach Todd Reirden Sunday. 

As they begin their coaching search, general manager Brian MacLellan is emphasizing experience and a coach who can change the culture. Rather, "someone who will push some buttons."

For NHL Network analyst Mike Rupp, the best fit for what the Capitals are looking for is Gerard Gallant. 

"Gerard Gallant for me though, that's the fit," Rupp said. "The players play for him, they go through a wall for him, he motivates players, but there is accountability through and through. He doesn't care what name's on the back of your sweater, you're going to be responsible for the way you play.

"[Gallant] for me in the early start here is the perfect fit I think," he said.

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Gallant has coached nine seasons in the NHL dating back to 2004 with the Blue Jackets. He spent three years in Columbus before landing in Florida seven years after his tenure with the Blue Jackets ended.

Gallant would then take over the expansion Vegas Golden Knights and coached them to a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2018, only to lose to the Capitals in six games. 

In January, the Golden Knights fired Gallant while still in the mix for a playoff spot, though the team's 24-19-6 record to start the year under their old head coach wasn't enough. 

 

Washington will have to live with their decision not to bring back Barry Trotz after winning a Stanley Cup. He's with the Islanders now and the Caps have had two underwhelming playoff performances the last two years, one of them coming against Trotz himself. 

So perhaps they'll be able to recapture some of that 2018 Cup magic by bringing in the opposing coach from that series. Stupid superstition like that probably plays no part in their decision-making process, so at the least, it appears Gallant could be just what the Caps need as they try to maximize the rest of Alex Ovechkin's time in the nation's capital.