Editor’s Note: Barry Melrose and Steve Levy are reporting for ESPN at the Stanley Cup Final for the 24th consecutive year. Melrose can also be seen on ESPN+’s In the Crease, with host Linda Cohn, following every game of the Las Vegas Golden Knights versus Washington Capitals series. They provide highlights and analysis of each game. Before the series started, Melrose predicted the Capitals would win the Cup in six games. The Caps lead the series 3-1, with Game 5 in Las Vegas on Thursday.
While approaching the end of his playing career in the Detroit Red Wings organization, ESPN’s Barry Melrose spent several years (1983-86) playing with a rising star named Gerard Gallant. They were on the ice together with the American Hockey League’s Adirondack Red Wings in Glens Falls, N.Y., and for a short time in Detroit.
“He was a great person, a real character guy who knew the game very well,” said Melrose of Gallant, who has led the expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup Final in the team’s first year. “He was a really good player, but he didn’t get to the NHL on sheer talent. He had to know where to be, what to do and why. His personality is one reason guys love to play for him so much.”
Melrose was a left defenseman and Gallant a left winger.
“When on the ice together, I would throw the puck up to him on the side. In that era, the younger guys learned from the older guys in the AHL and eventually they became the teachers.”
What other characteristic describes Gallant as a coach?
“I love his sense of humor,” said Melrose, who coached Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings to the 1993 Final. “Great coaches have a good sense of humor because you need it sometimes. While we played together, Gerry was always a joke-cracker and regularly came up with nicknames for teammates, broadcasters, and others who regularly worked with the team.”