Rangers’ head coach opening may not be as lucrative a job as people think

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New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin, right, celebrates with teammates after an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Saturday, March 18, 2023, in New York. The Rangers won 6-0. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
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There are few teams in hockey that have the aura that the New York Rangers possess. Whether it’s their championship pedigree or prominent all-time players, being a member of the Blueshirts has always brought its own special pedigree to the mix. 

Playing at the “World’s Most Famous Arena” certainly doesn’t hurt. 

But just because the Rangers are a top attraction for fans and players, doesn’t mean that’s the case for head coaches. With New York looking for a new leader after Gerard Gallant’s departure, that simple fact might be a major detriment to the team’s long term goals. 

Several veteran and young minds have been linked to the team since general manager Chris Drury opened his search for a new head coach back in early May. 

And while some may disagree, there are plenty of reasons why some of the top names considered may not even be interested in coming to the circus that the Rangers usually bring. 

Championship or Bust mentality

New York isn’t the only hockey club that has a “win-now” mindset. They are one of the few clubs though that won’t be patient enough to let a vision be completed though. 

Coaches across all sports have their own vision on how they want to build an organization, and most don’t take kindly to that plan being rushed. The Blueshirts have had a history of recycling coaches before they can get that completed and it could be a major turn-off to some. 

Add in the fact that the pressures of playing in New York City, coupled with a championship mandate, make it extremely uncomfortable for anyone when the first real losing streak comes to the team. In short, the aura that the Rangers bring is too bright for some, but their championship mindset, and how the franchise handles it, might be the biggest detractor to other names. 

The Vets

On paper, a top goaltender like Igor Shesterkin and all-stars like Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad and Adam Fox offer plenty of ease for new coaches to want to come and try to solve the Rangers championship puzzle. Most coaches could only dream of being in a situation like that. 

But the top players the team has doesn’t always guarantee success. Panarin has had massive issues in the last two playoff runs, Fox struggled mightily in the Game 7 loss to New Jersey, and Mika Zibanejad didn’t do enough to will his top line to victory. 

Add in veteran players like Jacob Trouba and Barclay Goodrow whose respect will need to be earned, there is a cast of strong character guys in the Rangers locker room. 

Winning over a locker room is not as easy as people think, and coaches can see how the team responded to Gallant’s departure as a reason to stay away from the Rangers entirely. 

The Future

This is what makes the Rangers job a massive gamble for anyone that comes in. Not only do you have to win a championship, not only do you have to win over a veteran locker room, but you also have to develop the plethora of young talent on the roster that hasn’t really stepped up in a major way yet. 

Whether it’s top overall pick Alexis Lafreniere, or fellow young players like Kaapo Kakko and Filip Chytil, whoever takes the job needs to be able to develop the young talent the Rangers have to make them into every day NHL players. Add in a farm system with guys like Brennan Othmann, Zac Jones, and Will Cuylle and this is still considered a young team with a few older veterans. 

Handling a veteran team alone is difficult. Having to also make sure the youth on the team develop fast enough to help the roster in the long-run makes the New York coaching job one of the most difficult in the entire league. 

And it may just be too big a situation for most available minds. 

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