Rangers Rumors: Peter Laviolette interviewed, and more on coach search
The New York Rangers have begun their head coaching interview process with reports that several high-profile candidates have spoken with GM Chris Drury about the job.
According to Arthur Staple of The Athletic, Peter Laviolette and Mike Babcock were interviewed recently. This news comes after Elliotte Friedman noted that the Rangers have also received permission to speak with Toronto Maple Leafs assistant Spencer Carbery.
Related: Rangers to interview Spencer Carbery
Rangers Rumors: Coaching Search updates
When the Rangers dismissed Gerard Gallant, the immediate favorite became Laviolette. The 58 year-old was fired by the Washington Capitals after they missed the playoffs this past season and appears to be the safest option. He won the Stanley Cup back in 2005-2006.
This is quite the opposite of Babcock, who is known for questionable tactics to motivate players. However, Larry Brooks of the NY Post noted in his latest Slap Shots column that the Columbus Blue Jackets are possibly close to hiring the 60 year-old bench boss.
So we’re told by a reputable source that the disgraced Mike Babcock is “far down the line with a team,” and the inference is that the team is the Blue Jackets.NY Post
This is good news on many levels because there’s rumblings that some in the Rangers organization were against Babcock as a candidate. The question we aren’t going to get any answers to is who was and wasn’t in favor of the move.
While there are still many names tied to the Rangers job such as Seattle Kraken assistant coach Jay Leach and Hartford Wolf Pack head coach Kris Knoblauch, the latest news out of Toronto could change things quickly.
The Maple Leafs dismissed GM Kyle Dubas and are looking for his replacement. That could mean the end of Sheldon Keefe as the team’s head coach. Should he become available, I believe he’s the Blueshirts top target to take over behind the bench.
Keefe, 42, has spent four seasons as an NHL coach all with the Leafs. He’s amassed a record of 166-71-30 over that span. While he’s always had star players up front, he’s never had a goaltender of Igor Shesterkin’s caliber to cover up their mistakes. Having Shesterkin will automatically help whatever defensive system he implements.
Of course, there’s one more wrinkle to add and that’s the possibility Joel Quenneville will be allowed to coach again. Commissioner Gary Bettman will meet with the disgraced coach after the playoffs. Quenneville was forced to resign for his role in the Kyle Beach scandal at the start of last season.
A report in early May stated the Rangers would not push for Bettman to speak with Quenneville and that he wasn’t a candidate.
One has to wonder, if there’s some level of discord in management over interviewing Babcock why would it not be the same for Quenneville? Something tells me this offseason is only going to become more intriguing with each passing day.