A familiar face roamed the hallways and concourse of Harbour Station on Saturday night. Sea Dogs fans were used to seeing him directing orders from behind the bench, but this time around the pride of the Port City was signing autographs, taking selfies with fans, and sharing some laughs with an old friend during the Sea Dogs game.
This familiar face to Saint John, and the rest of the hockey world, returned to the Station hot off a Cinderella inaugural season with the Vegas Golden Knights, a Stanley Cup Final appearance, and a Jack Adams Award.
None other than Summerside’s Gerard Gallant was back in town for one night only, and true to Gallant’s humble ways, he visited with little fanfare. No big promotional or advertising buildup. He simply came for a quiet visit of his old stomping grounds where he was at the helm for three first-place finishes, three league final appearances, two QMJHL championships and one Memorial Cup.
“It’s exciting to come back and visit with the players, coaching staff, management, fans.” said Gallant. “It’s great to come back to Saint John and see all the people who supported Mike (Kelly) and I during our time here.”
Sea Dogs Locker Room Visit
Gallant, whose Golden Knights currently sit third in the NHL’s Pacific Division with 62 points walked through the building, including a tour of the new Sea Dogs locker room.
“It’s nice to see the new dressing room and the new facilities. I really liked the gym area and the extra space for the team.”
He also visited the coaching staff and shared a few words with the team.
“Gerard has such a presence, but he is also so low key and so humble” said Sea Dogs Head Coach Josh Dixon. “We had a good conversation about all the success he had when he was here. He shared insight into how that team was built and the way he approached coaching and development. He said that you can’t be judging the wins and losses, that it’s about growth in the team, keeping things positive, getting better every day, and working hard. The opportunity to speak to the NHL’s reigning coach of the year and get his advice is incredible. I hope to make him proud with this version of Sea Dogs in the coming years.”
During his three seasons with the Dogs, Gallant made lots of fond memories en route to an impressive 159-34-9 record.
“Walking back through the offices and seeing the mural of the Memorial Cup Team photo really brought back some great memories” said Gallant. “I loved seeing the pillars honouring the players that we had on those teams, and the DK photo wall too.”
Future of the Dogs
Gallant says that he still follows the Sea Dogs closely, as well as the rest of the Canadian Hockey League.
“I follow closely. I check the scores every other day. I follow the whole League. I also follow every other League, even Junior A. I follow Summerside.”
The Sea Dogs are in the early stages of their rebuild and Sea Dogs President & General Manager, Trevor Georgie has been preaching “patience with a capital P” for months. What does one of the most respected hockey men in the business think of the youngest team in the Country?
“It’s a young team and they’re struggling now but they’re going to be a team to be reckoned with in the future.”
“Rebuilding is the way to go. The players are making mistakes but they’re making young mistakes. They compete real hard and that’s most important. As long they’re working hard, they’re going to get better. Especially with those young D, it looks like a good future.”
Turk’s Impact on the Franchise
Sea Dogs President & General Manager Trevor Georgie added his thoughts on one of the most recognizable men in franchise history.
“Class. Impact. Influence. Credibility. Humility. Both Gerard and Mike Kelly brought those things and more to the Sea Dogs” said Georgie. “They elevated the team to national notoriety during their time here.”
The most impressive things about Gallant according to Georgie:
“I am probably most impressed by how accessible and candid Gerard has been. I’m really encouraged by his thoughts and insights on the future of our young team. He is just so down to earth, always so generous with his time, and we’re lucky to call him a Sea Dog.”