The New York Rangers are looking for a new head coach after parting ways with Gerard Gallant after two seasons and a disappointing first-round playoff exit.
Lucky for them, there are plenty of options to consider and a loaded roster of talent to entice any able-minded coach to want to join an Original Six franchise.
Not every coach is made for the pressures that come with the Rangers though. Expectations are at an all-time high after two straight 100-point seasons and a fanbase yearning for a chance to see their team hoist a Stanley Cup Championship.
This also is an important hire for general manager Chris Drury – who may not be able to turn to another coach if his next one falters. So with the importance of finding a new head coach to lead a veteran team of young stars well established, let’s look at five names that fit the best with what the Rangers need.
Sutter is a lot like Gallant in that once his message becomes stale, the team doesn’t always respond well. That being said, Sutter is a Jack Adams award winner and is coming off one of the best seasons in Flames’ history just a season ago. Only free agency really got in their way after losing some of their best players. If the Rangers are able to duplicate even a little of what Sutter was able to do as a coach in Calgary or Los Angeles, New York could be a very happy place to be come hockey season.
Here’s a hire that wouldn’t fit what Drury needs in a coach, but would be an enticing and popular hire among many in the locker room. As head coach of the Hartford Wolf Pack, Knoblauch has experience getting the most out of young talent, while also competing at the highest level. He won’t be a Joel Quenneville-type hire, and Knoblauch has minimal experience at the NHL level, but this could go a long way to getting the Rangers where they need to be.
Trotz is holed up nicely in Nashville, the place where he started his NHL career. As general manager of his hometown team, it’s very unlikely he chooses to want to come to New York. However, the allure of an Original Six team could be too much to overlook for a Cup-winning coach with over 900 wins. Trotz would be a perfect fit for a team needing to commit to defense to work with the talent on offense. It’s unlikely, but it’s still an interesting option for Drury and the Rangers to consider, and he’s got the most pedigree outside of Joel Quenneville who the Rangers are already not considering for the job.
If you can’t beat them, hire their associate coach? The Rangers may have lost in seven games to the Devils, but getting the associate that has turned Jack Hughes and New Jersey’s fortune around is an interesting idea. New York has had major problems winning five-on-five over the last few years and getting a coach that can scheme his players to scoring opportunities will help. Brunette led the Panthers to the President’s trophy last season after the Quenneville debacle but didn’t get a head coaching job after. The Rangers would be smart to see if he could be a good fit here. There are, of course, downsides to hiring Brunette who was arrested for a DUI back in February.
Gallant was a player’s coach who ended up losing the locker room at the end. Boudreau is in the same realm as Gallant in that he’s a player’s coach who ended up losing the locker room as well. New York needs a coach who can strategize his team to goals as well as make adjustments on the fly. Boudreau isn’t really that guy. Of course, keeping the locker room happy will be a big focus for Drury. And if the team was able to gain 100 points with Gallant in back-to-back years, maybe Boudreau is the best fit.