Gerard Gallant’s first order of business as Rangers coach is hiring a staff; some likely candidates

By Forever Blueshirts
gerard gallant press conference
Jan 21, 2018; Raleigh, NC, USA; Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant reacts against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Golden Knights won 5-1. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers have hired Gerard Gallant as the 36th head coach of the Blueshirts. Expectations for him are simple, get this team into the playoffs and win a Stanley Cup. With this important move now in the books, he needs to work with Chris Drury to hire a staff.

Gallant needs to hire a coaching staff

The first order of business will be putting together a coaching staff for Gallant. One potential candidate is already rumored to be in the mix and it’s former Ranger Dan Girardi. Obviously Gallant will have a say in who he hires, but he will work with Chris Drury to finalize it.

He is considered a player’s coach that gets his guys to buy in and then go all out. “He’s got game in him, and he’s a fantastic coach,” Gallant’s agent Neil Glasberg told me. During our discussion he also gave me additional insights on head coaches.

“A head coach’s responsibility, at least over the last five years is being an incredibly effective interpersonal communicator,” Glasberg asserted. “A head coach is not the X’s and O’s guy. In the olden days he was, but today it’s the assistants.” There’s is a knock on Gallant that strategy isn’t his strong suit.

Glasberg states that analytics and video being readily available thanks to bench iPads has changed the game. “With the assistants being the X’s and O’s guy, they are executing the strategy but it’s the head coach that is managing the communication with the 20 guys on the bench.”

At the end of the day, Gallant was hired to be a communicator. That’s why these assistant coaching hires will be instrumental in developing and executing a strategy going forward. Hiring the right ones is now key.

Potential assistant coaching candidates

Another thing that his agent explained is that a head coach shouldn’t hire friends. He needs to not surround himself with “yes” people and needs some different opinions to make this a successful run. That being said, past success with previous assistants should not be ignored.

Dan Girardi would certainly qualify as not being a “friend” since he’s a Drury candidate. But who would Gallant want to bring in?

When you look at Gallant’s recent coaching experience running Team Canada he worked with Mike Kelly and Andre Tourigny. Of the two, Kelly is the most likely since he and Gallant have worked together numerous times.

Kelly was Gallant’s assistant in Florida and Vegas at the NHL. However, the two also worked in QMJHL with the Saint John Sea Dogs. Kelly was an assistant to Gallant from 2010 to 2012 while there. Kelly has also worked as GM and head coach in various other stops, including winning Gold with Team Canada in 2003 at IIHF World U18.

Gallant Rangers
Mike Kelly with Gerard Gallant in Florida (NHLI/Getty Images)

Another name to keep an eye on is Ryan McGill whom Gallant worked with in Vegas as well. He played for the Blackhawks before getting into the coaching ranks in the OHL and WHL. McGill also has ties to the Blueshirts as the Wolf Pack’s head coach from 2003-2005.

One more name that could be added to Gallant’s staff is another Chris Drury candidate, Kris Knoblauch. The current Wolf Pack head coach would be able to help Gallant bridge the gap from the current style the Rangers have implemented as they transition to what the new bench boss wants to do.

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