Report: What the Rangers are looking for in their next coach and who has the inside track

By Forever Blueshirts
new york rangers
Chris Drury at the draft (Getty Images)

The New York Rangers are in the process of doing their due diligence on the next head coach. Thus far, Gerard Gallant and Rick Tocchet have been confirmed interviews. From what I was able to gather, no discussions have taken place with any other coaching candidates including John Tortorella.

We are still very early in the process, and the Blueshirts are still waiting to see who else may become available. There should be more clarity after the first round of the playoffs conclude.

New York Rangers top criteria for next head coach

Forever Blueshirts has learned that the Rangers, like all teams have a checklist of things they want in their next bench boss. When David Quinn was hired, the priority was to find a fresh new face that could connect with the bevy of young players on the roster. Jeff Gorton first and foremost wanted a teacher to develop kids and Quinn was the perfect candidate for that responsibility.

So it isn’t surprising when I started asking that experience is the top priority this time around. I was unable to get any specifics on names, but we all know who is currently out there and available. However, a knowledgeable source provided the following as to how the Rangers are prioritizing criteria for the next head coach.

  1. Experience
  2. Excellent motivator that can communicate well with players
  3. Great in-game management

When it comes to experience, they aren’t exactly looking for the guy with the most wins or games coached. They are looking for someone who has been in big games at the NHL level.

As for being an excellent motivator, everyone is seeking that but the Rangers will be looking for the candidate with a proven track record of doing so.

Finally, great in-game management has nothing to do with defensive schemas or power play setups. I’m sure that will send analytics lovers crazy. The Rangers want a coach with an incredible feel for the flow of the game and making the right matchup adjustments.

NEW YORK RANGERS
Mar 17, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers associate general manager Chris Drury works the bench during a game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden. Due to the NHL COVID-10 protocol, the Rangers coaching staff were not available for tonights game. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Bennett/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

This season is a challenge for all teams looking to make a coaching change

In order to better understand the process of selecting a coach, I spoke with Neil Glasberg of PBI Sports. He represents several of the biggest names out there when it comes to coaches, with Gerard Gallant being one of them. “Nothing is normal this season,” he explained to me. “As it relates to coaching changes, it’s anybody’s guess and I don’t think we’ve seen the last of them.”

Traditionally, he said that more coaching changes happen after the first round and not necessarily based on if they lose but how they compete. “The other phenomena this year is a lot of coaching contracts were not renewed, and we still have a lot of coaches who have either already been fired or have not sat down for a renewal discussion,” Glasberg noted. “That typically does not happen.”

All these factors are making it difficult this offseason for many teams with coaching vacancies, with the possibility of more to come. That means more options for coaches and teams alike. This simply further complicates the situation and will prolong hirings in many cases.

Who has the inside track for the Rangers job?

When it comes to Chris Drury, Glasberg said that he has a tough job ahead. “The one thing I’ll say about Chris Drury is he deserves it and he works really hard. He’s paid his dues as an assistant GM.” Neil went on to say that these positions are too often filled on simple name recognition but that’s not the case here with Drury. If for any reason you weren’t confident about Drury before, you should be now. The Rangers are fortunate to have a guy like him ready to step in this role and lead the next phase of the team’s evolution.

Getting back to who has the inside track for the job, it is still too early to pick one name as a front runner. Obviously based on the criteria provided, Gerard Gallant checks all the boxes. Neil Glasberg even called him “the best of the unemployed experienced coaches out there.”

That does not mean it’s Gallant’s job if he wants it. There’s still other candidates that the Rangers are looking to speak with and are possibly waiting for. Oddly enough, we really haven’t heard much about Tortorella because he could be interested in a management position. I’m not ruling out a Torts return behind the bench, but it could explain why we haven’t heard his name yet.

Patrick Roy is a proven winner that checks a lot of boxes except for significant NHL coaching experience. Other veteran names that are likely to come up are Bruce Boudreau, Bob Hartley, Kirk Muller, and Claude Julien. So there’s still a lot of work to be done, and I wouldn’t expect a decision until June.

With all that being said, it’s clear to me that Gerard Gallant does indeed have the inside track right now. However, if we’ve learned anything about this season, it’s that things can change in the blink of an eye. From now until they make a hire, I’m sure there will be quite a few blinks, winks, and eye rubs before a final decision is reached.

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