Panthers fire coach Gerard Gallant

Panthers kicked fired coach to the curve (0:56)

Scott Van Pelt has a problem with how the Florida Panthers handled the aftermath of the firing of coach Gerard Gallant. (0:56)

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, but then the Panthers decided a change was needed.

The Panthers fired Gallant on Sunday night after Florida's 3-2 loss at Carolina, which dropped the Panthers to 11-10-1 this season, good for only 10th in the Eastern Conference.

Tom Rowe will essentially take a hiatus from being general manager to fill the coaching spot for the rest of the year, starting with Tuesday's game in Chicago.

"We wanted to develop a team and build a team that was fast, could move the puck quickly, pressure the puck in all three zones," Rowe said. "Gerard and I talked about it. He said he wanted a little bit more size, and we just decided to go in a different direction. Were we on the same page every day of the week? No ... philosophy was different."

Panthers owner Vincent J. Viola released a statement Monday saying, "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."

Matthew Caldwell, Panthers president and CEO, also weighed in on the decision.

"We've been unhappy with the inconsistent performance. I just think we can be playing better at this stage of the season. So we decided a change is necessary to move in a different direction."

Gallant was under contract through the 2018-19 season, having signed an extension back in January.

The postgame routine Sunday night turned into something most unusual.

Gallant spoke as always, talking about how five poor second-period minutes out of 60 was the team's undoing against the Hurricanes. Florida wasted an early 2-0 lead. Shortly after that, he apparently was told of the dismissal, and Gallant then waited for a taxi after his luggage was unloaded from the buses that were to carry the Panthers to the airport.

They went one way. He went another, and he became the first NHL coach to be fired since this season started.

Florida has clearly struggled at times, though it has also been injury-ravaged. Jonathan Huberdeau has not played yet this season and isn't expected back for several more weeks; Nick Bjugstad and Jussi Jokinen have missed significant amounts of time; and Alex Petrovic is now expected to miss up to two months with an ankle injury.

Plus, Jaromir Jagr has just three goals so far this season -- after leading the Panthers in scoring last season.

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.

Rowe was promoted to general manager before the season, and in recent years coached the Panthers' AHL teams in San Antonio and Portland, Maine. Rowe started last season in Portland and then was brought to the Panthers as associate GM under Dale Tallon on Jan. 1.

Rowe was then promoted to GM in mid-May.

Gallant was 96-65-25 in two-plus seasons with the Panthers.

Sportsnet first reported the firing.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.