Summerside Mayor Basil Stewart says he is outraged over the firing of Gerard Gallant from his job as head coach of the Vegas Golden Knights.
Gallant (nicknamed Turk), who is from the west end of Summerside, was abruptly fired Wednesday after general manager Kelly McCrimmon said the team "is capable of more than we have demonstrated this season." Peter DeBoer was then named head coach.
"I couldn't believe it," said Stewart of hearing the news. "I said, that can't possibly be true."
Stewart said everyone in Summerside, P.E.I., and Canada is proud of Gallant after he led the Knights to the Stanley Cup Final in their first season and won coach of the year. The mayor said he sent Gallant a text expressing support.
Assistant coach Mike Kelly, who is also from P.E.I., was fired at the same time.
'A great ambassador'
Now, Stewart is getting lots of calls from upset residents who say they're getting rid of their Vegas hats and jerseys. Stewart said he's taken off his own Golden Knights pin and will "never wear it again."
"Gerard has been a great ambassador, not only for Summerside, but for Prince Edward Island and to hockey," Stewart said, who reflected that Gallant had been having "a fairly good season, too!"
He wasn't alone in his outrage either — dozens of athletes, pundits and sports enthusiasts have expressed their shock and dismay via Twitter, calling the firing "shocking," "distasteful," "stupid," and a "horrendous move."
Even P.E.I. Premier Dennis King tweeted he was "disappointed and stunned" at the news.
Stewart said he and others he's talked to are confident Gallant's career in the NHL is not over.
"He will land on his feet. With his record, he will be joining some team and bringing that team to the top," opined Stewart. "Everybody will want a coach like Gerard."
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