Former Rangers coach says number of NHL firings ‘shocking’: report

new york rangers gerard gallant
Feb 1, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant reacts after a call during the third period against the Florida Panthers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Gerard Gallant knows being fired is part of the gig when you’re a head coach in the NHL. The former New York Rangers coach has been hired and fired four times already.

But even he is shocked by the number of coaching changes in the NHL since the end of last season. Thirteen teams have fired their coach, including when the Rangers dismissed Gallant on May 6 after two successful seasons.

“It’s obviously shocking when that many coaches get fired,” Gallant told The Athletic in a story published this week.

Seven coaching changes took place in the offseason. Notably, Peter Laviolette replaced Gallant as Rangers coach and has them sitting atop the Metropolitan Division with 71 points through 53 games.

Six other coaches have been replaced since the start of the 2023-24 season. The most recent change was in Los Angeles, where former Kings assistant Jim Hiller replaced Todd McLellan during the All-Star break.

“It’s gotten quite a bit different with the amount of firings that are happening, but it’s part of the business,” Gallant said.

Related: Rangers 2024 trade board

Gerard Gallant was fired as Rangers coach after 1st-round playoff loss to Devils last season

gerard gallant
Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a stunning turnover, nearly 50 percent of NHL teams made a coaching change since the end of last season. The Rangers did so after losing in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in seven games to the New Jersey Devils.

Of course, Gallant led the Rangers to the Eastern Conference Final in 2022, and had the Rangers two wins from reaching the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2014. He was 99-46-19 in two seasons as Rangers coach. But that wasn’t enough to keep his job.

There were rumors of discord between Gallant and general manager Chris Drury, including a heated argument during the Devils series. And questions about whether the coach had lost the locker room.

“Honestly, it’s very seldom that’s true,” Gallant said. “It’s the build-up. … But most of the time, coaches don’t lose the players. They don’t lose the dressing room. I think that’s just an easy way of saying things.”

The Rangers are the only Eastern Conference team to have made a coaching change currently in a playoff spot. There are three such teams in the West – the Edmonton Oilers, Kings and St. Louis Blues.

Kris Knoblauch, who coached the Rangers’ AHL affiliate in Hartford, has been the biggest in-season success story. Knoblauch is 28-8-0 since replacing Jay Woodcroft on Nov. 13. That includes an epic 16-game winning streak, one short of the all-time NHL record, which lifted the Oilers into third place in the Pacific Division.

The Rangers will play one of the teams to make a recent coaching change this weekend at the Stadium Series. The New York Islanders hired Patrick Roy to replace Lane Lambert on Jan. 20 and are 3-3-2 since the coaching change.

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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