Rangers head coach rumors: a surprise return from Mike Babcock in 2023?

Is Mike Babcock a fit for Rangers?
Toronto Maple Leafs

We’re nearing the end of our week in dissecting which coaches make the most sense for the New York Rangers to replace recently-fired Gerard Gallant. 

We’ve gone over guys that would be inexperienced if they were to be hired, and guys who have championship pedigree with multiple teams. In the end, only general manager Chris Drury will need to decide which characteristics he wants in a new head coach. 

Today, we look into another veteran coach’s mind that has plenty of success, but also even more controversy surrounding him. 

Coaching Profile: Mike Babcock

Current Title: Unemployed

Age: 60

NHL Experience: 17 years as head coach (Anaheim, Detroit, Toronto

Pros to hiring Babcock

  • championship and playoff experience
  • has experience with young talented players
  • teams focus on puck possession and limiting penalties 

Cons to hiring Babcock

  • accusations of harboring a “toxic work environment”
  • He hasn’t coached in the NHL since 2020
  • can alienate a lot of stars with an abrasive personality

Final Breakdown:

Babcock’s name has been whispered for both the Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets over the last few weeks. A veteran coach that has a championship pedigree, as well as a history of getting the most out of talented youngsters, is someone the team should absolutely consider. Babcock’s offensive approach and disciplined defensive unit make him an interesting candidate as well. His system is the kind that should have the team prepared for playoff games while getting the most out of talented stars. 

But like any veteran coach in this league, there are reasons that Babcock has been fired before, and there are clear reasons why he’s been out of the NHL for the last couple of years. Controversies surrounding how he has handled players and created a toxic work environment have followed Babcock since he was head coach of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. In today’s day and age, veterans and young players alike may not be pleased with having to experience those kinds of events with a new head coach. 

The Rangers have plenty of young talent that are trying to gain confidence throughout the year. Would it make sense for the team to hire an abrasive coach for the sake of trying to get the most out of a player like Artemi Panarin? For a team that has focused so much on having a strong leadership group, it may not be worth it. 

That will be the question Drury will need to answer this offseason. Will the Rangers move past their young core and try to get the most out of their veterans, or is building the young core the most important piece for the franchise? Whichever way Drury sides will determine who the next head coach will be. 

And in New York’s case, Babcock’s name being brought back into coaching circles is a clear reminder of both the good, and bad that comes with a veteran mind. 

For more New York Rangers news, turn to AMNY.com