That’s it for the casting calls. Nothing left to see here folks. Ever since firing Head Coach David Quinn on May 12th the Broadway Blueshirts have been hosting auditions to find their next leading man. Well, look no further, as of Monday afternoon June 14th — a very special date for Rangers fans — the Seventh Avenue Skaters have reportedly found their man.
News broke late Monday afternoon — Larry Brooks of the NY Post was first with the story — that Gerard Gallant, 57, and the Blueshirts had come to terms on a contract that will see him become the 36th Head Coach in team history.
There was a lot of speculation from the very beginning of the search that Gallant was the Rangers’ first choice. In fact, it seemed like a forgone conclusion, even if various reports stated there were other candidates involved. And in fact, there were other candidates, most notably Rick Tocchet, who was known to have been interviewed for the gig. But let’s be honest, this was always Gallant’s job to lose and he didn’t. Instead, he fired the puck right into the net.
One former Rangers player, who was given anonymity to speak freely, told me he’s enthusiastic about the move. He said Gallant knows how to instantly win (which he did in Vegas) and that players love playing for him.
A former Blueshirts Executive, who was also given anonymity and has known Gallant for many years chimed in by saying he’s a player’s coach and players love to play for him. He gets players to play hard for him.
Sounds terrific! There’s just one tiny problem. If players love playing for him so much, then why has he thrice been fired as a Head Coach before completing his third-year with each team?
According to the player, this is just the coaching cycle, or rather, the coaching lifespan. These things happen and he insists it’s nothing to be concerned about or to look too deeply at.
The former executive dug a bit deeper though and analyzed each of Gallant’s Head Coaching stops. First was Columbus, an expansion team who wasn’t really in a good spot from various perspectives. Then came Florida, which was just not a good fit. Heck, look at the way they let him go and the ensuing taxi debacle that made waves throughout the industry. So chalk both of those up to not being the right fit.
The Vegas situation was a bit more perplexing. According to the former executive, Gallant is more of a motivational coach than a tactician. He’s an amazing person but not an amazing coach. And because Vegas went to The Cup their first-year, management felt they were far ahead of where they initially thought they’d be.
So, in Year Three, when Pete DeBoer was on the market, it wasn’t so much that Gallant wasn’t good enough or that he’d fallen out of favor. It was more that upper management felt they had a chance to go get one of the best coaches in the entire NHL, so they swapped out Gallant for DeBoer.
Well, far be it for me to disagree with people who have been around this game a lot longer than I have. Still, I remain somewhat skeptical. However, I’m willing to give Gallant a chance to remove my doubts completely.
This shouldn’t be a problem for a coach who has a sterling 270-216-4-51 record in nine-seasons as an NHL Head Coach. He’s also a Jack Adams recipient, courtesy of his otherworldly work with the Golden Knights in their inaugural season (2017-18). And in case you’re still wondering about his credibility in regards to relating to his players, stop worrying.
During an 11-year playing career that spanned from 1984-1995, Gallant spent nine-seasons with Detroit and two with Tampa as a fairly productive and tough as nails Left-Winger. In 615 regular-season games, Gallant compiled 211-goals, 269-assists and 480-points, good enough for a mark of 0.78 points per game. That’s more than enough to convince players, young or old, that he knows what he’s talking about.
Gallant also accumulated enough penalty minutes (1,674) in his career to convince you that he knows how to incorporate the grit that the Rangers have sorely been lacking.
To that end, it was important for Chris Drury, the new Rangers’ President/General Manager, to get his man in place as soon as possible so they can start brainstorming for the upcoming NHL Expansion Draft, NHL Entry Draft and the start of Free Agency.
That’s a whole lot of planning to do and now that Drury has his coach, the tandem can work together to model this team into their image; one that fans, as well as Owner Jim Dolan, hope leads to a Stanley Cup championship. After all, today is the 27th Anniversary of the Blueshirts last Cup championship (1994) and that means they’re halfway to the 54-years the franchise took from 1940 to 1994 to win their fourth Cup. Fans and Dolan don’t want to wait that long for Number Five.
Hopefully, true Cup contention isn’t that far off, however, the former executive did caution that Gallant likely won’t be the Head Coach to take the Blueshirts to the Promised Land. He explained that 90% of coaches have an expiration date and that date is usually within three-years; I guess we now know why each of Gallant’s previous Head Coaching gigs didn’t make it beyond Year Three.
But before we put a damper on Gallant’s hiring the former executive further went on to tell me he has no doubt Gallant can and will take the Rangers to the next level. And that next level will be consistent playoff appearances. I suppose that’s a step up from missing the playoffs for four-straight seasons.
How do you all feel about that? After all, once you get into the playoffs, anything can happen. So maybe the team will have a surprise run and win it all with Gallant behind the bench. Only time will tell. But for now, let’s just rest easy knowing that a major piece of the Rangers’ off-season has finally been taken care of.