Hello, everyone. It’s Dan Mount and it’s time for another edition of Three Periods. We’re at the point at the season where we start figuring out how teams stack up in the playoff race. It’s usually the time when teams start to sweat a little more if they are outside of the playoff positions.
This week I look at the cold-bloodedness of the Florida Panthers in firing Gerard Gallant, the Army not being happy with the Las Vegas Golden Knights nickname and the return of Jack Eichel to the Buffalo Sabres.
This week’s bit of internet goodness will show the unique faceoff done at the Ottawa Senators vs. Philadelphia Flyers game on Thursday involving the CFL’s Grey Cup.
Let’s drop the puck and get started.
The Florida Panthers were flying high at the end of last season by claiming the Atlantic Division title with youthful team that was destined for great things. However, the start to this season has not been the best and the front office fired Gallant after 3-2 loss to the lowly Carolina Hurricanes. The loss was the last straw and the final salvo in a war with general manager Tom Rowe, who also took over behind the bench.
The sacking came as a surprise as Gallant was nominated as Jack Adams Award just last season. The most shocking thing about it was the fact Gallant wasn’t even given a ride back to Florida. He had to hail a taxi cab and get his own flight home. It reminded me a lot of how USC fired Lane Kiffing in 2013 after a blowout loss to Arizona State.
This is a shocking considering that the Panthers were 11-10-1 after 22 games, which isn’t one of the worst records in the league. They were out of the playoffs, but it was late November when the firing happened. The Panthers were talented enough to fight their way out or to at least give Gallant an opportunity to see if he could.
Rowe putting himself in charge is a gamble, as he could be the one that gets fired if he doesn’t get the team to a postseason berth. A GM putting himself in charge is not a new thing, as Dan Jennings put himself in charge of the Miami Marlins after firing Mike Redmond. It didn’t end well for Jennings and he was let go at the end of the season.
I had the Panthers making the playoffs, but it could be hard with the rise of the Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators. Rowe has to put his money where his mouth is.
A couple of weeks ago, the Las Vegas franchise announced “Golden Knights” as its team name. Team owner Bill Foley is a former West Point grad and wanted to work the name Knights in as an homage to the institution that gave him his education.However, the Army is not pleased and has objected to the team’s use of the Knights name and is reviewing its options.
Foley said that he didn’t mean any harm to the Army and he was told he could use the name per advice from NHL’s lawyers. The team chose Golden Knights as a tribute to Nevada’s mining industry instead. He did seek permission from Clarkson University and Central Florida, both schools use the nickname for their athletic teams.
I can understand West Point not wanting the Black Knights name used by the new NHL club. However, I feel the Army might be barking up the wrong tree on this one. I’m sure that Foley and the Army will work something out with some sort of advertising deal.
The Buffalo Sabres have had a hard time scoring goals in the early part of the season, but they now have an ace in the hole in the return of Jack Eichel from a preseason injury. The second-year sensation has already paid dividends as the Sabres have life in them now.
Eichel suffered a leg injury just a few days before the team’s season-opener against the Detroit Red Wings. Buffalo wasn’t expected to be a playoff team, but there was supposed to be progress and an opportunity for them to challenge for a spot. The Eichel injury really put a dent in those plans.
The 20-year-old has three goals in his two games back, including a pair against the New York Rangers on Thursday night. The sophomore sensation netted two in the final period to help the Sabres rally past the Metropolitan Division leaders.
This is a different team with the North Chelmsford, Mass. native in the lineup. The Sabres have a lot more pep in their step and the future looks bright for them. I don’t think they’ll challenge for the postseason, but they won’t be a pushover.
If Buffalo can figure out their goalie situation and get a top-flight defender, then look out.
Internet goodness: The CFL crowned new champions in the Ottawa RedBlacks, who upset the Calgary Stampeders in the Grey Cup final. The team celebrated by attending Thursday’s game between the Senators and the Flyers and dropped the ceremonial first puck.
The team topped themselves with a unique puck drop by putting it in the Grey Cup and dropping it for Ottawa captain Erik Karlsson and Philadelphia captain Claude Giroux, who is an Ottawa area native. Both of them get a kick out of it.
That’s it for this week. Take care and enjoy the hockey.
Dan Mount is a producer for Spadora on Sports (spadoraonsports.com). He’s also a writer for NHL on the Ice, the Nashville Predators beat reporter for The Hockey Writers and a reporter for the Watertown Daily Times in Watertown, NY. He can be found on Twitter @DanMountSports.