Rangers Rumors: No Joel Quenneville to replace Gallant, who should?
The New York Rangers and Gerard Gallant agreed to “mutually part ways” per a team press release on Saturday evening. After the news broke, President and General Manager Chris Drury spoke briefly with the media regarding the search for a new bench boss.
“We’re not going to limit ourselves right now to any specific style or type of coach,” he noted. “We want to be as thorough as we can be. Don’t have a set date in mind as of yet; just want to get the right person, whenever that is.”
With the NHL Draft on June 28, organizations usually like to have a coach in place by that time. That should give the Rangers about 7 weeks to find Gallant’s replacement.
Rangers Rumors: No Joel Quenneville
While the Rangers were dropping stinkers in their first-round loss to the upstart New Jersey Devils, rumors surfaced that they were interested in firing Gallant for three-time Cup winner Joel Quenneville.
Late yesterday, Larry Brooks of the NY Post reported that Quenneville will not be one of the candidates Drury will be looking at.
We were told late Friday by an NHL official that Quenneville, who has been out of the league since he was permitted to resign as Florida coach in late October 2021, has not been cleared for a return. Saturday we were told that the Rangers will not pursue the matter with commissioner Gary Bettman, who is the sole arbiter in this matter.NY Post
Quenneville is still under unofficial suspension after his role in the Kyle Beach scandal with the Chicago Blackhawks became public.
Who should replace Gallant?
The list of candidates, at least by name and reputation is underwhelming at the moment.
Brooks did suggest Hartford Wolf Pack head coach Kris Knoblauch, who is considered a bright young mind in the game. However, if the well respected Gallant couldn’t get this team to work hard and forecheck, will someone with no NHL experience be able to?
Knoblauch, did serve as an assistant coach to Dave Hakstol with the Philadelphia Flyers from 2017 to 2019. The 44 year-old has been with the Pack since 2019-20 and has them on a nice playoff run this season.
While I believe Knoblauch will be an excellent NHL coach, taking over the helm of a team that’s supposedly ready to win a Stanley Cup seems like a move that could backfire.
Ultimately, Gallant’s successor will be a head coach with experience and possibly a Stanley Cup ring on their finger.
Peter Laviolette (752-503-25-150)
The 58 year-old was fired by the Washington Capitals after they missed the playoffs this season. Soon after, Laviolette was adamant that he wanted to get right back behind the bench. If the Rangers were to hire him, it would be a bit of a homecoming for the Massachusetts native. Laviolette only played in 12 NHL games and they were all with the Blueshirts during the 1988-89 season. He won the 2005-2006 Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Darryl Sutter (737-530-101-111)
Sutter, 64, was also recently fired by the Calgary Flames after missing the playoffs. Apparently there was a lot of disconnect with his players that led to the eventual dismissal. However, with two championships to his name, he’s a candidate. He won both Cups with the L.A. Kings in 2012 and 2014 with the latter against the Rangers. Who knows, maybe the Rangers feel he owes them one.
Todd Reirden (89-46-14)
Reirden, 51, is a name that’s not being talked about enough. He was an assistant under Barry Trotz when the Capitals won the Stanley Cup in 2018 and took over when Trotz left for the New York Islanders. Reirden was considered one of the best up-and-coming head coaches and led the Caps to two first-place finishes. Unfortunately, they were bounced in the first round both seasons leading to his dismissal. He’s currently an assistant with the Pittsburgh Penguins and believes in playing structured hockey much like Trotz.
Other potential candidates
There’s a number of different directions the team could go in, but all of these names seem unlikely to me.
Mike Babcock is fighting to get back behind an NHL bench. The 60 year-old won a Cup with the Detroit Red Wings back in 2008 but his tactics to motivate players might make Mike Keenan turn his head.
Patrick Roy played with Chris Drury as a member of the Colorado Avalanche. He’s a proven winner that checks a lot of boxes except for recent NHL coaching experience. Roy did win the Jack Adams Award for coach of the year as a rookie bench boss with the Avs in 2014. He’s also been known to have a big temper, and that could be a combustible mix with the fiery Drury.
Claude Julien was fired by the Montreal Canadiens in 2021 but could be a potentially decent fit with the Rangers. He’s a veteran coach that won the Cup with the Boston Bruins in 2011. The 63 year-old has a career record of 667-445-10-152. More importantly, he’s posted a 68-56 record in the playoffs.