It is that time of year where individuals get recognized for individual performances while teams are still fighting for playoff spots or go on to win championships.
Individual awards are special, even if few who receive them ever seem to mention what it really means to them personally.
I picked two coach of the year winners to highlight here. I know both personally, have admired them professionally, and know them both to be of rock solid integrity. Both put their players and teams far ahead of anything they might achieve personally.
Want to know what it takes to be coach of the year? Gerard Gallant and Gardiner MacDougall are my best answer to the question. They win by being who they are as a person of character and integrity first.
Here is a cut and paste summary of both coaches from the Sea Dogs and CIS sites.
Ron Lapointe Trophy as QMJHL Coach of the Year: Gerard Gallant
Saint John Sea Dogs Head Coach Gerard Gallant has been awarded the Ron Lapointe Trophy as QMJHL Coach of the Year. In his first season behind the bench in the Port City, Gallant led the Sea Dogs to a franchise-best record of 53-12-1-2, a mark which earned Saint John their first-ever Jean Rougeau Trophy as the league’s regular season champions.
Gerard Gallant was introduced as the third Head Coach in Saint John Sea Dogs history on April 24, 2009.
Gallant, 45, most recently served as an Assistant Coach with the New York Islanders (NHL) during the 2007-08 season. Prior to his tenure in Long Island, the Summerside, PEI native spent seven years on the coaching staff of the Columbus Blue Jackets (NHL), serving as the team’s Head Coach from January 1, 2004 to November 13, 2006. Gallant was behind the bench as an assistant coach with Team Canada at the 2007 IIHF World Championships in Russia, capturing Gold at the tournament.
Before joining the Blue Jackets, Gerard was an Assistant Coach with the American Hockey League’s Louisville Panthers (1999-00) and led the Summerside Capitals to Ken Cup Championship in 1997 as the MJAHL team’s Head Coach.
During a highly-successful playing career, Gallant appeared in 615 games in the NHL as a member of the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, tallying 211G-269A-480P-1674PIM over the course of eleven seasons. Originally selected by Detroit in the sixth round (107th overall) of the 1981 NHL Entry Draft, Gallant enjoyed a standout major junior career with the Sherbrooke/St. Jean Beavers and Verdun Juniors, recording 129G-192A-321P-724PIM during his three-year run in the QMJHL. Gallant also led Sherbrooke to a President’s Cup Championship in 1982, contributing 14G-24A-38P to the Beavers’ playoff drive that year.
FATHER GEORGE KEHOE MEMORIAL AWARD (coach of the year): Gardiner MacDougall, UNB
MacDougall became the second UNB mentor to earn the Father Kehoe award. Mike Kelly was honoured in 1997-98.
In his 11th season behind the bench, MacDougall led the Varsity Reds (27-1-0) to a record campaign during which they set a CIS mark with 27 conference wins and established a new AUS standard with 54 points, which tied the all-time CIS record. His V-Reds, who were ranked No. 1 in the first 15 national media polls before falling to second place in the final voting, allowed a CIS-low 56 in 28 league duels while finishing first in the Atlantic and third in the country with 143 goals scored. UNB’s 26 straight wins to open the regular schedule were also a new CIS record.
Over the past decade, MacDougall has guided the V-Reds to five University Cup tournament appearances, four trips to the national final and two CIS titles, in 2006-07 and 2008-09. A three-time AUS coach of the year, he was twice named coach of the year in his native province of Prince Edward Island and was an assistant with the Canadian team made up of AUS all-stars that claimed gold at the 2007 Winter Universiade in Italy.
Congrats to Gerard and Gardiner—and all of you who put in coach of the year type performances this past season.