Only 1 other coach topped Peter Laviolette in 1st season with Rangers

NHL: Stadium Series-New York Rangers at New York Islanders
Brad Penner-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Peter Laviolette just wrapped up an incredible first season as coach of the New York Rangers. Though it was a record-setting performance, it wasn’t the most successful first season as coach in franchise history.

Laviolette coached the Rangers to a franchise-record 55 wins and 114 points in the regular season, helping them earn their fourth Presidents’ Trophy. He also coached in the 2024 NHL All-Star Game and finished fourth in the voting for the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year Laviolette received five first-place votes, tied for third-most among all coaches.

In the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Laviolette guided New York to a 10-6 record before the Rangers were eliminated by the Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference Final.

Those 65 combined wins moved Laviolette past Gerard Gallant (62 combined wins and a conference final appearance in 2021-22) as the second-most successful coach in his inaugural season with the Blueshirts.

The only other coach ahead of Laviolette on that list? That would be Mike Keenan, the last coach to guide the Rangers to a Stanley Cup championship.

Keenan won 52 games in in his only season with the Rangers in 1993-94, leading them to their second Presidents’ Trophy at the time. Then in the magical spring of 1994, he guided them to a 16-7 record and the fourth Stanley Cup championship in their history, first in 54 years.

Those 68 combined victories are most for a coach in his first season with the Rangers.

Frank Boucher is the only other coach to win the Stanley Cup in his first season behind the Rangers bench. He did so in 1939-40. Boucher totaled 34 wins that season, 26 in the regular season and eight in the playoffs, when there were only six teams and the schedule was shorter.

Related: Where Rangers stand after NHL: salary cap increases

Top 5 inaugural seasons by Rangers coach

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Frank Becerra Jr./The Journal NewsCredit: Frank Becerra Jr./The Journal News

Here are some honorable mentions first: Ted Sator won 49 games combined (41 regular season, eight playoffs) in his only season as Rangers coach in 1985-86. Roger Neilson won 41 games (36 regular season, five playoffs) in 1989-90 and John Tortorella won 38 regular-season games (did not make playoffs) in his first full season of 2009-10. He replaced Tom Renney the previous season.

Renney had 47 combined wins (44 regular season, three playoffs) in 2005-06, his first full season as coach. He had replaced Glen Sather during the previous season.

5. Fred Shero – 51 combined wins

Fred Shero led the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Final in his first season behind the bench in 1978-79, when they lost in five games to the Montreal Canadiens. Shero won 40 regular-season games and 11 in the playoffs that season.

4. Alain Vigneault – 58 combined wins

Alain Vigneault also guided the Blueshirts to the Stanley Cup Final in his first season as Rangers coach in 2013-14, but they lost in five games to the Los Angeles Kings. Vigneault won 45 games in the regular season and 13 in the playoffs.

3. Gerard Gallant – 62 combined wins

Gerard Gallant got the Rangers to within two wins of the Stanley Cup Final in 2021-22. He had 52 regular-season victories and 10 more in the postseason.

2. Peter Laviolette – 65 combined wins

Like Gallant, just two wins from reaching the Stanley Cup Final. He had the same 10 postseason victories as Gallant, but three more in the regular season.

1. Mike Keenan – 68 combined wins

1940 No More! Mike Keenan is the coach who hung a photo of the Stanley Cup on the locker room wall and then helped end the 54-year curse. 1993-94 was the most memorable season in Rangers history, with 52 regular-season wins and those 16 more in the playoffs.

    Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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