Rangers need new voice in 2023 after exit interviews

Rangers locker room is the reason for coaching change
The New York Rangers celebrate after center Mika Zibanejad scored a goal against the New Jersey Devils during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, April 29, 2023, at Madison Square Garden in New York.
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

The New York Rangers are in the market for a new head coach after mutually “parting ways” with Gerard Gallant after two seasons. The reasons for the move, at the very least, seem pretty simple. 

According to reports from Mollie Walker of the New York Post, and Greg Wyshynski of ESPN, the players ultimately ended up being a big reason for general manager Chris Drury to make this decision. 

Four years after the historic “Letter” that marked the beginning of a rebuild within the Blueshirts organization, it seemed that New York turned a corner when they reached the Eastern Conference Finals in 2022. With a young core and plenty of assets to remain aggressive in the offseason, expectations were high going into the following season.

Except the team, and their coach didn’t reach those expectations. Instead of waiting to see if Gallant could turn around the team entering his third season, the Rangers front office, led by Drury, wanted a new voice within the organization. 

“We win as a team and lose as a team. We’re all disappointed we’re not still playing. I think if I could reference the exit meetings, the good thing is, no one wants to be left off the hook,” Drury stated

It may seem crazy to some that the coach with the highest winning percentage in team history for a coach of over a single year would be canned after a first-round playoff exit, but moves like these don’t come after a single moment – they come from a bevy of voices and reasons. 

In the end, though, a player’s coach like Gallant is only capable of leading as long as the locker room is behind him. For a franchise that touted having strong locker-room leadership, the exit interviews and comments made by players during locker-room cleanout led many to believe that a change in leadership was coming for the Rangers – it was just a matter of when. 

“A lot of different parts go into the week after the season… After a number of discussions, we both felt change was beneficial,” Drury explained of the decision. 

Regardless of the reason for the move, the Rangers are now looking for a new head coach with several Stanley Cup-winning names having potential ties to the team. And with the players as vocal as they seemingly were about needing a new voice, that coach will have the difficult challenge of leading a team that has the talent needed to make another deep playoff run, but not being able to accomplish that in the last few years. 

“(We) Want to be as thorough as we can be. Don’t have a set date in mind as of yet; just want to get the right person, whenever that is…Just looking for the right fit. Not going to limit ourselves right now to any specific style or type of coach,” said the general manager.

This will be the second coaching change this new leadership group in the locker room has seen in the last four seasons. While there will be those that say Gallant was not the reason for the team’s disappointing first-round exit against New Jersey, the easiest move was to find a new voice in the locker room that could get the players motivated and prepared. 

And that’s exactly what the Rangers did. 

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