A look at Hartford’s 7th Head Coach, Kris Knoblauch

The search for Hartford’s new head coach came to a close on Monday with the announcement of the hiring of Kris Knoblauch. Hartford’s vacancy lasted for 100+ days, beginning on April 15th.

The 40 year old has a solid resume in regards to player development. Knoblauch spent time in the WHL as an assistant for the Prince Albert Raiders, followed by the Kootenay Ice. In the 2010-11 season he was promoted to head coach for Kootenay and in his two seasons he coached the team to a championship, then followed by a first round exit.

He transitioned to the OHL’s Erie Otters in the 2012-13 season, giving the organization life from missing playoffs to making post-season annually under his tenure. The Erie Otters had a continual winning record that was impressive. He turned young players to quality prospects for future teams, pushing them to maximize their potential on ice. He was rewarded with results in the playoffs, from winning another championship. Knoblauch is also notable for winning the Matt Leyden Trophy in the 2015-16 season (Coach of the Year).

Then Knoblauch earned himself NHL experience beginning in the 2017-18 season as the assistant coach of the Philadelphia Flyers. He spent two years with the organization prior to joining the Rangers organization.

I had a few quick thoughts in regards to the hire earlier when the news broke:

“Here are some thoughts regarding the 7th head coach in #HWP history: -He has a solid track record of coaching plus developing younger players. His time in the WHL/OHL proved to be strong before grabbing 2 seasons worth of NHL experience.

-He has coached within developmental leagues, say to speak. The #AHL is similar in that aspect of coaching. He knows how to maximize player potential. He can adjust on the fly during games and adapts to any situation given. That’s a + considering the roster changes constantly.

-Given where the #NYR are today, building up the farm system is critical for sustainability long term. Let the youngsters have fun while playing, let them win. Let them experience playoffs on this level, embrace the grind. Knoblauch fits the needs that the organization wants.

-This off season is one of the better ones as of late for Hartford. I see improvement, and the urgency of building up the #HWP as a competitive, strong team in the #AHL is truly a win. We have the right veterans in place along with a HC. Next thing we need? Assistant coaches.”


Quality Of The Hire?

I believe the new coach is perfect for multiple reasons. We have a coach in place that is used to coaching in developmental leagues. He is able to adjust on the fly and during game situations. Prior Wolf Pack coaches struggled in those situations despite AHL experiences beforehand.

This past off-season is one of the best the franchise had in a longest time. We have the right veterans, the right coach, and the right attitude on how to handle the AHL next season. For the returning prospects they will have to adjust to Kris Knoblauch. That shouldn’t be an issue considering the experience Knoblauch has with younger players.

Knoblauch has a great track record developing young talent. He seems in sync to understanding their mindsets. He knows what the players want going to the NHL. His experience at various levels bode well for success.

John Davidson wants a strong farm team. Chris Drury wants to see results on the bench. This could be ultimately the guy to turn around the franchise long term. Knoblauch will create the competitive winning culture that the organization needs in Hartford.

The next question that conclude the off-season is what assistant coaches will be in place? Will it be Knoblauch’s former assistant coaches? Will the Rangers outsource or in source the job? How many assistant will be on the bench? These are the remaining questions that have to be addressed before training camp opens.

Ricky Milliner is a Hartford Wolf Pack season ticket holder. While growing up, he discovered hockey by attending a... More about Ricky Milliner

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