Tom Rowe Loses First Game As Florida Panthers Head Coach

© Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports 2016 NHL: Florida Panthers at Chicago Blackhawks

After a 2-1 shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks last night, former Florida Panthers general manager Tom Rowe is off to a 0-1 start in his new role as head coach.

This past Sunday, the Panthers (now 11-10-2) controversially fired their head coach, Gerard Gallant--the same coach who led the team to their second playoff berth in 15 years and helped them rack up 103 points and a 47-26-9 record for the best season in franchise history last year. The Panthers also fired assistant coach Mike Kelly.

Both coaches were dispatched by the Panthers administration immediately after last Sunday's 2-3 letdown to the Carolina Hurricanes. Some reports say Gallant was forced to take a cab to the airport by himself after the loss.

The Panthers offered a perfunctory explanation via press release: "In seeking to earn a second consecutive playoff berth and bring a Stanley Cup to South Florida, we believe that new leadership is required immediately," Panthers chairman, owner and governor Vincent J. Viola said.

Since the search for a new head coach won't officially begin until the end of the current season, Rowe relinquished his general manager duties, which have been transferred to his assistants, to replace Gallant in the interim.

The appointment marks Rowe's first stint as a NHL head coach, but not his first time behind the bench.

Rowe kicked off his NHL coaching career with the Carolina Hurricanes as an assistant coach from 2001-04, and then worked several years as a head coach in the AHL--a chapter he closed with a 218-165-43 record. From 2012-13, Rowe spent time overseas with the KHL as the head coach of Yaroslavl Lokomotiv.

Immediately prior to joining the Panthers organization, Rowe served as the head coach of the team's AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage, and then the Portland Pirates. On Jan. 1, 2016, he accepted an associate general manager role with the Panthers, and quickly earned his title change in the following offseason.

Many have criticized Gallant's firing as premature, citing last year's success and this year's injury-riddled roster (Alex Petrovic, Jaromir Jagr, Jussi Jokenin, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Nick Bjugstad are all sitting out with various health issues). But a deeper dive tells a tale of conflicting opinions among management on how to run a successful hockey program. According to ​Sun Sentinel ​Panthers beat writer Dave Hyde, it boiled down to a clash between analytical (Dale Tallon, the Panthers' president of hockey operations) and old-school (Gallant) approaches.

Nonetheless, general dissent in the hockey community won't bring last year's Jack Adams candidate back--the Panthers will have to grind through the season under new coaching leadership and face an uncertain future in the offseason.

Perhaps Gallant will find a new home with the nascent Vegas Golden Knights, which recently kicked off their search for their inaugural head coach.

'If You Ain't First, You're Last': Erie Otters Take Step Back In OHL

Erie Otters Erie Otters Training.jpg

By Jacob Messing

A historic Erie Otters season ended suddenly in late May when host Windsor defeated the regular season champions 4-3 for the Memorial Cup, given to the winner of a four-team tournament played

Knights Have ‘Golden’ NHL Debut

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By Jacob Messing

The past few months have been full of firsts for the Vegas Golden Knights, the NHL’s 31st franchise.

In March they signed Brandon Wheat Kings center Reid Duke, in June they sifted through opposing rosters during the expansion draft and selected one player from each team, and later in the summer they unveiled their home jerseys.

10 NCAA Players To Watch In 2017-18


By Jacob Messing

The wait is almost over for hockey fans.

Social media is teeming with #IsItOctoberYet, NHL training camps have started, and teams are beginning to take shape. But mid-September doesn’t just mean a new professional season; the puck is set to drop October 1 for college hockey.

Who Will Replace Nashville's Ryan Ellis?

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By Jacob Messing

Last week, the Nashville Predators announced they would be without rising defenseman Ryan Ellis until the turn of the calendar year. The 26-year-old Canadian is recovering from offseason knee surgery and has not begun skating yet.

Intersection Of NHL Trading Trends And Matt Duchene Deal

© Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Ottawa Senators at Colorado Avalanche

By Jacob Messing

Is Nugent-Hopkins A Fit As Penguins Third Line Center?

© Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports NCAA Hockey: Frozen Four-Boston University vs North Dakota

By Jacob Messing

A New Test For Griffins’ Sadowy

© Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Anaheim Ducks at Nashville Predators

By Jacob Messing

The last three years have been complicated for Dylan Sadowy.

He’s played in the OHL, AHL, and ECHL, been drafted into the NHL by one team, and traded to another -- although he’s yet to play a game in the world’s best league.

5 Best NHL Players On Each Side Of 30

© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Edmonton Oilers

By Jacob Messing

Earlier this month, Sidney Crosby turned 30 years old, and even at that benchmark age the Pittsburgh Penguins captain still remains at the forefront of any argument about who is the best player in the world.

However, that’s not to say a new generation of budding stars won’t be entering the conversation soon.

The NHL is becoming increasingly younger, and 20-year-old phenom Connor McDavid highlights the future of the game. So, rather than compare them -- given that Crosby has 10 years on the Edmonton Oilers’ young captain -- we decided to break down the best players by age groups, those above 30 and those below.

AHL Sophomores To Watch In 2017-18

© Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Buffalo Sabres

By Jacob Messing

Late summer is typically when hockey fans ask, “Is it October yet?”

While the start of the season is still a long way off, camps begin in a month -- a time for high-end prospects and AHL players to get good, long looks from their coaches as teams push for roster spots and players seek to fulfill their NHL dreams.

Why Danis Zaripov Won’t Find An NHL Home

© Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports OLYMPICS: Mens Hockey-Russia vs Czech Republic

By Jacob Messing

KHL star Danis Zaripov is reportedly eyeing to play his hockey stateside after a two-year ban from the International Ice Hockey Federation for a failed drug test. Both organizations follow the policies of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), resulting in Russian side AK Bars Kazan voiding Zaripov’s recently signed two-year deal.