Kris Knoblauch deserves appreciation from New York Rangers tonight
When the New York Rangers host the Edmonton Oilers at Madison Square Garden on Friday night, former Hartford Wolf Pack head coach Kris Knoblauch deserves to be recognized.
While he wasn’t coaching on Broadway, save for an emergency stint when Covid hit the Blueshirts coaching staff during the pandemic, he was influential in reviving their AHL affiliate. Furthermore, he had a direct hand in preparing players to shine when called upon.
“Working with him (in New York), he’s a real nice person,” Peter Laviolette said of Knoblauch on Thursday. “Detailed oriented and he did a good job in our organization. It’s easy to see that translate (in Edmonton).”
The New York Rangers named him the head coach of the Hartford Wolf Pack back in 2019. Taking over the team’s foundering AHL affiliate, he gradually improved them and finally broke their Calder Cup Playoff drought last season. In his time behind the Pack bench, he compiled a record of 119-90-32 in four plus seasons.
Kris Knoblauch deserves recognition
Knoblauch, 45, waited a long time to get his first official head coaching gig before the Oilers came calling this season after firing Jay Woodcroft. Since taking over, the extremely bright bench boss is 11-6-0 and has the team playing better hockey.
At some point before the opening draw or early in the first period, the Rangers should welcome back Knoblauch and throw up a ‘Thank You’ message on the screen.
Although not in a official capacity, Knoblauch had two separate stints behind the Rangers bench when both David Quinn and later Gerard Gallant were sidelined by positive Covid tests.
Filling in for Quinn during the 2020-21 season, he coached six games and the team posted a record of 4-2-0. He won the first game against the Philadelphia Flyers by a score of 9-0 on March 17th, 2021, at Madison Square Garden. The following season, he went 1-1-0 when Gallant missed two games. Officially, those wins and losses were assigned to the coach Knoblauch stepped in for.
“It’s very similar, everything is in place,” Knoblauch noted when he subbed in a second time. “I talked to Gallant on the phone. We just talked about some line stuff. As for line combinations and power plays, they’re all set. I’m just trying to make sure they go running as smooth as possible.”
Aside from that, Knoblauch helped develop players like Will Cuylle, Ryan Lindgren, Braden Schneider, Zac Jones, and Igor Shesterkin while they were in Hartford. Just as important, when the Rangers needed someone to fill in due to injury, Knoblauch had guys like Jonny Brodzinski and Ben Harpur ready to fill gaps temporarily.
At the end of the day, if for no other reason than living up to their reputation for being a World-Class NHL franchise, the Rangers should give Knoblauch a minute of appreciation.