Rangers Roundup: Gerard Gallant receiving praise, top assistant coaching candidates, and more

Rangers assistant coaches
Who will join Gallant in NY? (NHLI/GETTY/FTHN)

The New York Rangers made the hiring of Gerard Gallant official this week. He will now be the 36th head coach in franchise history, and he’s been receiving plenty of praise since being getting the job.

Gerard Gallant receiving praise

Before he was hired, I spoke to Gallant’s agent, Neil Glasberg during the World Championships. He called Gallant a client whom he feels blessed to represent. “He’s got game in him, and he’s a fantastic coach,” he exclaimed. “Gallant would be great in multiple organizations. He’s the best of the unemployed experienced coaches out there.” As is often the case, the Rangers got their man.

By all accounts, the Rangers had Gallant targeted at the top of their list and was the first candidate interviewed. “His vast experience and success behind the bench at several levels make him the ideal choice to lead our team on the ice,” President and General Manager Chris Drury said after the hiring.

A former Ranger who played for Gallant when he was with the Florida Panthers from 2015-2017 is Jaromir Jagr. He had glowing remarks about his old coach, especially about connecting with star players.

“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.”

Jagr also made it clear that Gallant is no pushover and will bench a star player too. The difference he says it that Gallant doesn’t hold a grudge and it rarely carries over into the next the game.

The expectation is that Gallant will work with Chris Drury to reshape the bottom six of the lineup. It will be a top priority in order for the new coach to be successful. All his teams in the past were a mix of skill and grit, so expect the same with Rangers. Just like any good craftsman will attest, you need the right tools for the job in order to do it right.

Rounding out the Rangers coaching staff

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.

gerard gallant
Oct 6, 2018; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Las Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant on the bench in the first period against Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Finally, according to a report in The Athletic, Dan Girardi is being considered to be part of the new coaching staff. This past season, the 37 year-old joined the Sabres as an assistant and helped interim head coach Don Granato turn things around. “I’ve kind of been through everything,” Girardi said on WGR550. “The way I played, how I carried myself in the [locker] room, a teammate first, didn’t worry about all my individual stuff, really thought about the team game; all those things, when you’re a good teammate, word gets around and you’re able to talk to guys.”

Prediction: Gallant will hire Mike Kelly and Dan Girardi as his assistant coaches.

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