AP Source: Panthers fire coach Gerard Gallant

Gerard Gallant was a coach of the year finalist last season after guiding the Florida Panthers to a division title and the best regular season in franchise history.

He made it through 22 games this season, before the Panthers decided change was needed.

The Panthers fired Gallant on Sunday night, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press. The move was made after the Panthers’ 3-2 loss at Carolina — one that dropped Florida to 11-10-1 this season, good for only 10th in the Eastern Conference.

Tom Rowe will take over as coach, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the moves. Rowe was promoted to general manager before the season, and coached the Panthers’ AHL teams in San Antonio and Portland, Maine in recent years.

Rowe becomes the Panthers’ 14th coach, and the fifth person to be behind the Florida bench in the last five years. Florida next plays Tuesday night in Chicago, the second game of a six-game trip for the reigning Atlantic Division champions.

Gallant was 96-65-25 in parts of three seasons with the Panthers. Many team officials were not immediately available for comment, since the team was traveling from Carolina to Chicago.

SportsNet first reported the firing.

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