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Reunited in South Florida

Jonathan Huberdeau and New Head Coach Gerard Gallant Experienced Success Together Before

Tuesday, 06.24.2014 / 11:25 AM ET / News
By Patrick McGrath  - FloridaPanthers.com
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Reunited in South Florida

On June 15, 2012, Gerard Gallant accepted an assistant coaching position with the Montreal Canadiens. Gallant joined the Canadiens coaching staff in the wake of three monstrously successful campaigns as the head coach of the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs which saw Gallant win back-to-back QMJHL and CHL coach of the year awards, while leading his team to two QMJHL titles, a Memorial Cup, and three consecutive 100-point seasons. 

With the move to Montreal, Gallant parted ways with dynamo Sea Dogs captain Jonathan Huberdeau who had compiled 281 points in the previous three seasons under Gallant and who had been drafted with the third overall selection by the Florida Panthers at the 2011 NHL Draft one year prior.

Gallant was a part of a renaissance in Montreal; helping the team to the playoffs in each of his two seasons as an assistant while Huberdeau joined the Panthers for the 2012-13 season where he was honored for his strong debut with the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league’s top rookie.

Now, with the Florida Panthers announcing that Gallant will fill the teams head coaching vacancy, the agents of fate have conspired to reunite Gallant and Huberdeau. The mentor and the student, back together. The same roles as before but this time it is the NHL that they will attempt to take by storm.

Jonathan Huberdeau joined the Saint John Sea Dogs as a quiet, undersized, 16-year-old who barely spoke a lick of English. His play on the ice did the talking, and it only took a few scrimmages for new head coach, Gallant, to realize that there was something special about this teenager from Saint-Jérôme, Quebec.

“I remember going to training camp, I wasn’t the biggest guy,” recalled Huberdeau. “I think I played two or three scrimmages and right after the third one he [Gallant] met with me and my dad and he said, ‘I’m going to take him, he’s going to play.’”

And play he did. Huberdeau played in 61 regular season games and 21 postseason games during his first QMJHL season (2009-10). Gallant was not afraid to use his young star and Huberdeau credits his head coach for putting him in situations to succeed at such a young age.

“He was giving me chances that a lot of players wouldn’t have on another team by being 16 years old.”

Those early chances set Huberdeau up for his breakout 2010-11 campaign when he tallied 105 points in 67 regular season games and an additional 30 points in 19 playoffs games while leading the team to the QMJHL title and the CHL Memorial Cup.

Huberdeau looks at Gallant as one of the most important mentors in his career, and the person that can help him achieve the next level of NHL success.

“He was a great coach for me, a great mentor. He’s a good reason why I’m in the NHL right now and I’m pretty sure he can get me to the next level,” said Huberdeau.

Gerard Gallant has earned himself a reputation as a coach who excels at developing young talent. After his success in the QMJHL, Gallant went on to become an integral coach of a Canadiens team littered with young players. Ranked 27th in the NHL the season before Gallant joined as an assistant, the Habs achieved back-to-back berths in the playoffs these last two seasons, making a run to the 2014 Eastern Conference Final before falling to the New York Rangers.

Huberdeau believes that Gallant’s strong communication skills are a big reason why he has been so successful with young players.

“As a player you really like the coach talking to you and that is what he does,” said Huberdeau. “He just comes to tell you what he thinks about you, what he wants he wants you to do better. I think that is a plus for young guys.”

Gallant’s experience with young players is a plus for the Panthers who have a roster full of young talent. That Gallant and Huberdeau have an already established relationship and a history of success is an added bonus. Now as Gallant takes the helm for the Cats, the reunited duo has the chance to continue their relationship and create new success with the Florida Panthers.

 

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 79 27 39 23 66
J. Jokinen 81 18 42 25 60
A. Barkov 66 28 31 18 59
J. Huberdeau 76 20 39 17 59
V. Trocheck 76 25 28 15 53
R. Smith 82 25 25 19 50
A. Ekblad 78 15 21 18 36
N. Bjugstad 67 15 19 -8 34
B. Campbell 82 6 25 31 31
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18

 
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