Gerard Gallant is the right coach to help the NY Rangers reach their playoff goals

By Julia Capitelli
new york rangers
Apr 6, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Igor Shesterkin #31 and Mika Zibanejad #93 of the New York Rangers defend against Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period at Madison Square Garden on April 06, 2021 in New York City.Mandatory Credit: Bruce Bennett/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

When the Rangers’ search for a new head coach began, John Tortorella, Rick Tocchet, Bob Hartley, and Gerard Gallant were names that came up repeatedly. After thorough review, Chris Drury came to the decision to hire Gallant. He had seemed like the obvious choice for some time, but now that he has actually been hired, the reasons for this have been clarified.

Gerard Gallant can connect with stars and kids

Larry Brooks of the New York Post recently conducted an interview with Jaromir Jagr to discuss Gallant. The biggest takeaway from that story was Jagr’s emphasis on how well Gallant connects with the players. He made it clear that this ability to connect isn’t limited to veterans or younger players but actually encompasses both. On a Rangers team with a conglomeration of players at different stages in their careers, this will help them all respond to Gallant’s coaching and grow together.

“It’s going to be good for the players, and the star players are going to like it because he knows how to relate to them,” Jagr told Larry Brooks of the NY Post. “And the reason for that is that he was a very good player, he was a star in the NHL, playing with a star like Stevie Yzerman in Detroit. So he knows what the stars need. Nobody can really tell you that. It’s something you have to feel. It’s something you have to know. You need the personal experience. That’s a big advantage.”

Praise for Gallant

The coach needs to be able to effectively communicate with every player on the roster. That’s something that David Quinn seemed to struggle with. Towards the end of the season, Brooks pointed out an obvious “disconnect” that had occurred between Quinn and the top players. Gallant needs to avoid having this same problem. Based on Jagr’s review though, it shouldn’t be an issue. The Rangers seemed to develop a stronger sense of community this past season, but not necessarily due to Quinn. A head coach should establish a culture and help unite the group. From Jagr’s evaluation, it’s reasonable to conclude that Gallant can strengthen the relationships even more. This not only applies to relationships between players, but to his relationship with the group as well.

As mentioned in the press conference, Chris Drury wants to name a captain this season. Leadership keeps a team on track, and both the coach, captain, and assistants are included in the leadership group. Miscommunication or lack of communication can lead to animosity and prevent progress. So overall, Gallant must make communication with all players a top priority. Not only will it help individuals, but it will help the team to establish a culture and develop into a winning team.

“We can keep moving this thing forward, a big piece of that for me would be getting a captain. For me it’s a priority. At the end of the day, it has to be the right person. I’m not interested in giving it to someone to just say we have a captain. I think we have a lot of leaders in our room and leaders that have taken big steps, including the second half of last season.”

Drury on naming a Captain

Gerard Gallant knows how to win in the NHL

GERARD GALLANT knows how to win
Nov 2, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant argues a call during the third period against the Winnipeg Jets at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Gallant has coached nine seasons with three different teams in the NHL. His campaign with the Las Vegas Golden Knights was possibly the most impressive three year period. In the Knights’ inaugural season, Gallant was able to coach them to a .665 points percentage in the regular season to finish first in the Pacific Division. He also took them to Stanley Cup final. The Golden Knights ultimately lost to the Washington Capitals, but immediately established themselves as a force in the NHL that season.

Gerard Gallant was handed a group of players who hadn’t necessarily played together prior to being selected in the Vegas expansion draft. He was able to unite this diverse group and quickly develop a successful team. This characteristics are exactly what the Rangers need at this stage. Drury will be making a few additional changes to the roster, but the rebuild is otherwise over. The front office wants to start winning. Drury said each individual player needs to understand their role. Gallant is the coach that can help each to find and fulfill theirs. The Rangers do have a core group that has been together for a few years now, however there are other newer pieces as well. After leading a diverse and new Vegas team to the success they had with him behind the bench, it would make sense that he could lead the Rangers in similar fashion.

Why was Gallant only with each team for three years?

Gerard Gallant has spent three years with the Columbus Blue Jackets, three years with the Florida Panthers, and three years with Vegas. These three-year periods are certainly curious. While there is no clear evidence that this distribution for be cause for concern, it does raise questions.

The most surprising of these firings is the one from Vegas. After the success they had all three years with Gallant there, it seemed strange that they would get rid of him. Again, there is no clear reason to be concerned, but it’s not exactly normal for a strong and consistent team to fire their coach. So what went wrong? It’s very possible that nothing went wrong and management just decided it was time for a change. But the three-year periods might make one wonder if there’s a specific reason he can’t seem to stay with one team. Gallant’s contract with the Rangers is for four years, so it will be interesting to see if they choose to keep him for the duration, longer, or if this will just be another three year stint.

Note: All stats come from hockeyreference.com

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