Wacky Wednesday strikes again and this time, it has claimed the job of now former Rangers Head Coach David Quinn, as well as those of his Assistants: David Oliver, Greg Brown and Jacques Martin.
So, one week to the day after John Davidson and Jeff Gorton were shockingly shown the door, it was perhaps unshocking to see Quinn and Co. follow them out. That means Goalie Guru Benoit Allaire is the last man standing and if we’re being honest, Allaire will likely hold onto his job until he himself chooses to step away; which likely isn’t anytime soon.
So, what now?
New Team President and General Manager Chris Drury has his work cut out for him. Not only must he construct the roster in a way that it will take the next step and become a playoff team, but he must now also find a new Head Coach and Assistants. Not to mention, Drury needs to fill several slots in his Front Office as well as figure things out with Hartford, with whom he is still the GM and of course, he has his duties as GM for Team USA at the World Championships to deal with.
If you’re out of breath thinking about how Drury will manage all those responsibilities, fear not, he has what it takes to handle everything with aplomb.
Getting back to the task of picking the 36th Head Coach in Rangers franchise history, Drury has a litany of options to choose from and some are obviously more exciting than others.
There are the obvious Free Agent candidates (as reported by The NY Post and The Athletic): Gerard Gallant, Bruce Boudreau, Rick Tocchet, Bob Hartley, John Tortorella, Mike Babcock and Patrick Roy. As well, there are dark horse candidates like: Kris Knoblauch and Mark Messier to consider.
So, let’s dive in.
Gallant, who is rumored by multiple sources to be an early front-runner, had a successful first-year in Vegas and exponentially raised his stock by taking the expansion Golden Knights to The Cup Final in Year One (2017-18).
Boudreau is a quality coach who has been around the league for years and would bring something different to the table, but I question if his track record will be enticing enough to land on Broadway.
Bacock is likely considered too toxic considering everything that went down during his tenure in Toronto and I can’t imagine Madison Square Garden willingly taking on that PR situation. However, he does bring instant credibility as a winning-coach.
Tocchet was just let go by Arizona, although the team claims it was mutual and brings a certain level of star power to the coaching position given his credentials as a player. I’d think he’s high on Drury’s list.
Hartley is a surprising name to me considering he hasn’t been an NHL Head Coach since being fired by the Flames in May 2016, but he does have a Stanley Cup on his resume from his time leading the Avalanche in 2001, so that probably gives him a leg up on the competition.
Roy was a teammate of Drury’s and had a solid run behind the Avs bench last decade, so he’s got the experience and connections needed to land in New York, but one has to wonder if this would be a marriage that could last.
That leaves us with the most intriguing name on the list and that’s Tortorella. Torts has twice coached on Broadway with overall excellent results and has the Stanley Cup championship pedigree (with Tampa Bay) that is sought after by teams hiring new coaches. Tortorella also has the distinction of having taken a young Rangers team (2011-12) to the Eastern Conference Final a year ahead of schedule, so that certainly bodes well for his case to get a Third Act on Seventh Avenue.
Let’s also remember that Tortorella is a disciplinarian and will get his players to skate through a wall, which is something the current Blueshirts are lacking. Drury was his Captain when they were both in New York and Glen Sather and Jim Dolan love him. So, the question here is 1) would Drury go this route and 2) would Torts want to return to NY?
As for the dark horses, Messier has zero coaching experience but has the star power Dolan so loves and has openly campaigned for the job. So, does that add up to Messier getting the gig? I’m skeptical, but then again, nobody saw Dolan firing Gorton and Davidson, so clearly anything can happen.
Knoblauch is an interesting possibility as he’s already familiar with the current players on the roster from when he filled in for Quinn this season due to the coaching staff’s COVID outbreak, as well, he has coached many of the young players during their time in Hartford, so he seems to check most of the boxes. Plus, he was a Drury hire in Hartford so it’s possible the two continue their working relationship in New York.
Regardless of whether it’s one of these candidates or somebody else, Drury has an important decision to make and one that will have a long lasting impact on the Seventh Avenue Skaters. And for those asking why Quinn had to go, it’s really rather simple. Drury wanted a clean slate and a fresh start with his own hand-picked coach. Had Dolan been the one behind this move, he would have fired Quinn when he sent Gorton and Davidson packing. That he didn’t shows that Dolan is indeed letting Drury pick his own man.
Overall, this is just another pitstop on the Rangers roadmap back to Stanley Cup contention and I’m sure there’s plenty more to come.