Golden Knights get a head coach, what’s next for the team?

Owner Bill Foley's final installment of his $500 million expansion fee has cleared, and the NHL has told its other 30 teams that the Golden Knights are able to complete transactions before they begin play next season. (MGN Online)

The Vegas Golden Knights have hired Gerard Gallant as the first coach of the NHL expansion team.

Team owner Bill Foley described him as “a man of character, a person of his word, a person who will never give up and never give in."

General manager George McPhee announced the hire Thursday.

Gallant helped revive the Florida Panthers, leading them to a first-place finish in the Atlantic Division last season and becoming a coach-of-the-year finalist. He was let go last November after just 22 games as the team stumbled to a slow start.

Gallant was a standout left wing as a player, primarily for the Detroit Red Wings -- scoring at least 34 goals in four straight seasons from 1986 through 1990 and finishing his NHL career with 211 goals in 615 games. He later was a head coach in Columbus and an assistant in Montreal, among other stops.

In hiring Gallant, McPhee said he looked not only at Gallant’s coaching experience but at his time on the ice, calling the former Detroit and Tampa Bay player tough and honest.

He really turned himself into a player,” McPhee said. “The players who have had to fight and learn and understand the game, are better able to teach it."

Teaching/coaching will be Gallant’s primary task, McPhee said.

He said selecting NHL players in the June expansion draft will be up to him and team scouts alone.

“We'll provide the players and Gerard coaches them,” said McPhee, “and we're not going to tell him how to coach, and he's not going to tell us how to find players.”

To Gallant, it’s all golden gravy.

With the Golden Knights, he thinks he’ll utilize his past coaching experience with the then expansion Columbus Blue Jackets.

“We're going to have to put together 23 players that came from other teams, and lots of the guys will know each other, but a lot of those guys haven't played together,” said Gallant. “So, the chemistry is going to be really important, the leadership is going to be really important, and the quicker it comes together, the better we'll be."

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