Who will be the next Rangers coach? Gerard Gallant or John Tortorella

Who will be the next Rangers coach? That is now the biggest question in New York and for Chris Drury. By far the most critical decision he will make regardless of who they acquire this summer.

There’s already been a lot of digital ink used today in the wake of David Quinn’s firing from the New York Rangers. First off, I am a big fan of what Quinn did while he was here. For what it is worth, he was the right man for the task at hand. Infuse and develop kids.

Sadly, there was never a chance for him to continue once John Davidson and Jeff Gorton were dismissed. That’s because James Dolan basically indicated I don’t like the direction and gave Drury the mandate to win now.

Who will be the next Rangers coach?

As soon as the firings of both John Davidson and Jeff Gorton took place it was expected that Quinn would be the next to fall. Already at that time two names were immediately brought to my attention and they were John Tortorella and Gerard Gallant. Since then names like Bruce Boudreau, Patrick Roy, and Claude Julien followed. Another name that came up was Mike Babcock, but that sounded like it was coming more from his camp as having interest.

For several days there was a lot indications that John Tortorella had an inside track but time progressed that didn’t seem the case. Within the last few hours, Larry Brooks has reported that Gerard Gallant is the frontrunner. It’s hard for me to go against a Hall of Fame writer whom everyone knows is tapped into the team.

Remember, it was Brooks who got the exclusive with James Dolan after JD and Gorton were let go. However, I’m not that willing to dismiss what I heard either.

Let’s look closer at the two top candidates.

Gerard Gallant, next Rangers coach?

who will be the next rangers coach
Dec 9, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant shouts to a player during the third period against the Dallas Stars at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Career Coaching Record: 270-216-4-51 .550%
Playoffs: 18-15

The 57 year-old Gallant is on many NHL team’s short list of candidates. He had three stop in the NHL with Columbus, Florida, and Vegas. He was a smashing success for the expansion Golden Knights taking them to the Stanley Cup Finals in their first season.

While he is highly regarded by many of the new age hockey fans, his overall record and lack of playoff success doesn’t scream James Dolan guy here. Let’s not forget, he was fired by the same expansion franchise he won a Jack Adams Award with and took to the Finals. Why? Frankly, the owner didn’t think he was cutting it.

Their 5-on-5 play has been underwhelming, if a bit unlucky. While their puck possession remains solid (third in the league in Corsi for percentage, at 53.59 percent of shot attempts), they’re not taking over games offensively. They’re first by a wide margin in expected goals at 5-on-5 — weighed for shot quality — at 106.93, but are 12th in actual goals (98). They have the No. 24 shooting percentage, at 7.5 percent. They’re second in the NHL in scoring chances percentage (55.38) but 22nd in goals scored percentage (48.51). Overall, the Knights are 17th in the NHL in goals per game (3.02) with a system that’s creating chances but without results.

ESPN

Larry Brooks however states, “Sources have indicated that Gerard Gallant, who engineered the revival of the Panthers before taking the Golden Knights to the Cup final in the expansion team’s inaugural season, is at the top of the list and should expect an interview with Drury forthwith.”

Being at the top of the list and getting the job are two different things for me.

John Tortorella, next Rangers coach?

next rangers coach
Jun 21, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella wins the Jack Adams Award during the 2017 NHL Awards and Expansion Draft at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Career Coaching Record: 673-541-37-132 .548%
Playoffs: 56-64 1 Stanley Cup

The 62 year-old Torts has been coaching a lot longer and is 12th all-time on the NHL’s win list. His best record for a team came when he coached the Rangers from 2008 to 2012. He amassed a record of 171-118-1-29 for a .583 winning percentage. However, in the postseason he was 19-25 and was fired after a mutiny for grinding his players to the bone.

That was also 10 years ago and he isn’t exactly as brash or hard on his players as you remember. Matter of fact, after his departure from Columbus many players sang his praises.

“Personally, I love Torts,” Zach Werenski said. “Me and Torts went through it. My first year, came in and it was smooth sailing. Second and third year I was struggling defensively. He was hard me – pushed me to be better. Going through that process with him – seeing what he means to the room, to the city, to the organization – I’m honored to have played for him.”

Even Patrick Laine, who chuckled a little about finding out that no matter who you are, or how much money you make, you will be benched. When asked if he would do better under a different coach Laine responded, “it’s not the system’s fault, it’s mine. It doesn’t matter who is behind the bench – I need to play better.”

If the concern is Torts will be too hard on this group of players, then maybe the Rangers have bigger issues than I thought. Could he be any harder than Tom Wilson? Or the Islanders and Bruins who had their way with them when it mattered?

Also in his favor are the fact that Dolan, Glen Sather, and Drury like him. And from a most important player perspective, Artemi Panarin liked playing for him too. Torts even called the Breadman one of the top three players in the league back in 2019. He nailed that one didn’t he?

So while Brook is saying Gallant is the frontrunner, I’m not ready to dismiss Torts coming back. Stay tuned.

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