Buzzing The Net

Montreal Canadiens hiring Gerard Gallant away from Saint John Sea Dogs — report

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Saint John coach Gerard Gallant (right) coached in the NHL for 7 years (OHL Images)

Make it two Memorial Cup-winning coaches in 24 hours who seem headed for The Show — and this one is even less of a surprise. Multiple reports on Twitter have stated that Gerard Gallant, who guided the Saint John Sea Dogs to successive Quebec League titles and a Memorial Cup triumph in 2011, will become a Montreal Canadiens assistant coach under Michel Therrien.

Official news could come very soon; it looks like there was something to the Gallant-to-Montreal talk that started during the MasterCard Memorial Cup.

(Update: Station Nation has more. The Montreal Gazette is reporting Gallant and former QMJHL coach Clement Jodoin will be joining the Habs staff.)

Gallant was the right person at the right time in Saint John. There was a vibe at the MasterCard Memorial Cup that this might be the last waltz for him in junior; you could read that in both his candour about QMJHL officiating and the way some Sea Dogs players seemed to go out of their way to credit their coach during media interviews. Under he and associate coach Mike Kelly's watch, the Sea Dogs went from a young franchise which had offered mostly only teases of potential in their early years to a formidable force. For Gallant himself, as Jonathan Willis pointed out recently, a three-year hitch in junior did a lot to repair his reputation in the NHL after he took some collateral damage being part of twisted-up franchises with the Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Islanders.

If Kirk Muller's progression is any indication, Montreal Canadiens assistant coaches always tend to prime candidates for the top job elsewhere in the NHL. There's a visibility with being in Montreal.

Éric Veilleux, who steered Shawinigan to the Memorial Cup after beating Saint John in the semifinal, has confirmed he's not rejoining the Cataractes. The Sea Dogs will have a different look in 2012-13 so the timing for a coaching change is decent. They haven't totally stripped down the remnants of their team to stockpile draft picks, but they will be a vastly different team. The Sea Dogs will still be competitive, but with several stalwarts in the pros and Gallant gone, they might not radiate that understated East Coast self-confidence that was their hallmark across the past three years.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at neatesager@yahoo.ca and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.

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