Irresponsible Rumormongering

Reviewing the probable head coach options for the Rangers

It’s been a rollercoaster the last week and a half. There’s been so much going on that some of our planned posts have been pushed back, as the Rangers continue to overhaul the entire structure of the front office and coaching staff. In all this came a rumor that Gerard Gallant may be a front runner for the Rangers head coaching position. The search will take some time, but there are other options for the Rangers at head coach.

Gerard Gallant

Starting with the supposed front runner, Gallant is a coach that has seen some rough luck. He had the Florida Panthers performing well, but a front office coup that dismantled a successful team led to Gallant being kicked to the curb, literally. He then took an expansion Vegas team to the Cup Finals, only to be terminated a few years later as things apparently got personal with the GM. Remember, Gallant was less than two years removed from a Jack Adams Award.

Gallant has a career .600 winning percentage as a head coach. He has a track record with two teams of taking them to unexpected results. Neither Florida nor Vegas were expected to be good, yet Gallant guided them and got buy-in. There’s an alternate reality somewhere that has Gallant still with Florida or Vegas, as his on-ice results did not warrant dismissal from either team.

Still, Gallant managed to let his star scorers do their thing while also buying into the defensive aspect of the game. He didn’t run overly complicated systems either, which makes it easier for young kids to get accustomed. Less is more. Less micromanagement and less complication leads to better results.

Bruce Boudreau

The offense whisperer, he was last employed by the Minnesota Wild and was replaced mid year last season. Boudreau excels in puck possession and driving offense, specifically team offense. Some of those Wild teams had no business competing based on roster construction, but he got the buy-in and helped drive the offense with aggressive systems that were heavy on the forecheck with defense looking to break up plays at the blue line to join the rush.

Boudreau’s teams weren’t bad defensively, just more passive than you might expect even with one man always pressuring the puck. Generally his teams would limit high priced real estate while looking to force a turnover. That might actually work with the group of players assembled.

Boudreau would be an interesting option for Rangers head coach, if only because he seems like a legitimately relaxed guy who won’t let the media really get to him. That means something in a big market. Boudreau would be my personal #2 after Gallant.

John Tortorella

Could the Rangers go with round 3 of John Tortorella? It seems like he’s at least one of the options for Rangers head coach, albeit an unlikely option. His contract was not renewed in Columbus, and he managed to make both Pierre-Luc Dubois and Patrik Laine lose all desire to play the game. There’s something to be said for making stars unhappy. Remember Torts did the same to Marian Gaborik.

But what Torts does have going for him is a willingness to change his systems and structure for his teams. He let Seth Jones and Zach Werenski run wild as “rovers,” a tactic that could work wonders for K’Andre Miller and possibly Adam Fox. His Columbus teams weren’t necessarily bad either. They always had decent metrics but had some awful luck with injuries. There was also a roster composition concern, as many lacked true finishing skill.

What Torts has going against him is the recency bias with Laine/PLD. He also has some media in New York that are still out to get him. But he does promote more of a North/South game, which is what Drury, who played for Torts as a Ranger, has said the Rangers need. Artemiy Panarin also played for Torts.

In the end, it’s a matter of whether the Rangers want to have Torts for another go-round. It may work, it may not. I don’t think it would be the unmitigated disaster that folks are making it out to be, though.

Claude Julien

Claude Julien is best known for winning a Cup with the Bruins in 2011, a team that Jeff Gorton mostly built before getting let go. Most recently with Montreal, his teams were subpar, but he did manage to get a second round appearance last season before being let go. His firing was a complete surprise, since the Habs did have unexpected success prior.

Julien is a defensive minded coach, so the fit is a question. Given the comments from some players, the Rangers might be looking for a more offensive minded guy, or at least one that won’t micromanage his star players. Julien gets more out of the sum of the parts, which is good, but if the stars can’t run free, within reason, then is it a good fit?

Kirk Muller

Muller’s name is mentioned a lot, and he was part of the Habs’ overhaul when letting Julien go. He hasn’t been a head coach since his Carolina days. Those teams were bad, but it wasn’t really Muller’s fault. I don’t know much about Muller, but his name is popping up as one of the head coach options for the Rangers.

Bob Hartley

For some reason, Hartley’s name won’t go away. He’s been coaching in the KHL since being dismissed by Calgary after missing the playoffs three of four years. Hartley’s fame is winning the Stanley Cup with Ray Bourque in 2001. But he’s also seen success in the KHL. I don’t know much about him, other than his Calgary teams were not good. But how much of that was poor goaltending? There’s only so much a coach can do with Karri Ramo as their goalie.

Rod Brind’Amour

Only if Carolina doesn’t re-sign him. They will.

Mike Babcock / Mark Messier

One got run out of town in Toronto for being a true jerk. The other has absolutely no coaching experience. Neither are a fit.

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  • Come on Dave, this again? lol Thought we had gone over this already.

    In Torts defense, I’m not sure PLD and Patrik Jack Lalanne are really negatives. It’s not like PLD is thriving in Winnipeg all of a sudden and Laine has always appeared to be a somewhat one-dimensional player — I can hardly blame Torts for trying to get PL to buy in.

    • Torts was trying to get Laine to be a better player. Laine should be a great player, but he is not. Nothing wrong with Torts trying to get the guy to work at both ends of the ice. That is what he’d do with the Rangers if he was hired. But, I don’t really expect that to happen.

  • I like Gallant.

    I’ll say this on Boudreau after watching the Ducks for almost two decades. Great regular season coach, but not a great play off coach.

    Torts – no questions about what you’re getting.

    When Julien was let go we were rumored to be one of the teams that asked to talk to him. Seemed like odd timing for that request.

    Kirk Mueller- not enough experience in my view based on what has been said so far about expectations for next year.

    Hartley has a relationship with Drury from their days with the Av’s. He’s been coaching in the KHL for a few years now. May be a good fit with the Russian prospects. To me he’s a dark horse candidate, but someone to keep an eye on.

    Brind’Amour- we have a better chance of winning the draft lottery again. I would be all in if he was available. Timing wouldn’t be great considering Carolina should go well into the play offs.

    Babcock/Messier- both appear to be self promoting. So not sure they are actually candidates.

    • Babcock has a .600 winning percentage as an NHL head coach and won the 2007-08 Cup. Why is he getting zero respect here?

  • Dave, where can I find comments Rangers players made after the season? I see a lot of them referenced, but I haven’t been able to find a good source.

  • The way I see it, no matter how you slice. Names that won’t be here by 2024 will include Buch, CK, Chytil and most likely one of Kakko or Kravs go.

    50% of that list will be due to the new coach wanting to see a mini overhaul. The other is because FO will need cap space, $$ and due to the new direction of the team, different role players. It’s hard to imagine Gallant wanting Chytil as his middle 6 center.

    • It’s hard to imagine that anything you say corresponds to reality.

      On that note, how’s “Ranger-for-life” Kevin Hayes? Getting ready for another 40-point, $7.12 million season I bet!

  • Julien: No, a thousand times no. They’d be laughing all over Boston at the latest Rangers’ debacle.

    Messier: A million times no. His ego damaged the post-cup years and put us in a black hole. No experience + ego = recipe for disaster.

    Babcock: I can’t listen to that heavy Canuck accent for a full season. Pass.

    Rod the Bod: Unrealistic, but I’d take him in a second.

    Hartley: Isn’t he ancient history?

    Boudreu: He’s like the offensive equiv. of Julien. Plus they both look like adult babies. No.

    Muller: Has proven what, exactly?

    Torts: I loved those Black & Blue Shirts. Rarely have I been that proud of a Rangers team. The balls on them. Cally, Prust and the rub off on the whole team, courtesy of a Torts injection. But for this team at this time? No.

    Gallant: Sign him.

    • Agreed … and Torts may not be the BEST coach for this team, but I’m not convinced Torts is the wrong coach for THIS team. He did after all do pretty damn well with a young trio (Vincent Lecavalier, Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis) on TB. He coaches based on what he has …

      • I personally witnessed the Torts Stanley Cup in Tampa.

        There is nothing quite like it – certainly not the asterisk cup bestowed on the Lightning last year. But we digress…

        For the record, Vinny, Brad, and Marty all rave about Torts and about how much respect they have for him and how he (Torts) made them better hockey players.

        Personally, I love the dude. I am not sure he is the right person right now though.

        I’ve been advocating Gallant for some time – if Drury is going to get him they better get Kracken 🙂

        • Yeah, he may not be the first choice but I still don’t think he’s just flat out wrong for the job — I think he can deal with younger players just fine — and as you suggested, those guys love him.

          • I love Torts too. As Joe Biden might say, Here’s the deal: Torts would make the team play hard, but, Torts can be hard to play for. Not sure whether he is the best choice or not for this team, but, you know you are going to get someone who is going to drive the team to be their best–while probably also driving them nuts!

  • Let’s enjoy the fact that the former coach is a healthy scratch for good based on his poor performance.

    This is a highly sought after job with their high end talent, deep prospect pool, and the allure of a marquee original six team in NY.

    Drury is off to a good start with Lindgren deal and sending DQ back to college.

    I have confidence he has the right mix of playing (on a Stanley Cup winner) learning the GM / ropes in the minors and with JG / JD and using analytics in today’s game.

    Until he doesn’t, I believe he will find the right fit for our next coach. Let’s Go Rangers!

    • Looking at the teams you listed above, (Columbus, Arizona and Detroit) I would imagine any coach would wait on the Rangers before committing to any of those teams. The situation they will walking into with the Rangers is far better than any of those teams, considering the talent, the salary cap and no assistant coaches other than Allaire.

    • there’s really not plenty of time, you want your new HC taking the reins, not on the days leading up to the entry draft.

  • 1.Gallant – I think he was railroaded in Fla and Vegas!
    2. Maybe Torts or Bruce would be ok
    3.Hot Rod would go to the top,but I think he resigns with the canes.
    4. The rest if you have to just give them a courtesy interview and don’t let the door hit them in ass walking out the door.

  • Dave, I’m confused. Why do you keep referencing Torterella 3? Hasn’t he only coached here once?

  • nothing to do with coaches but my thought is to use kreider on a forth line to open up a space for one of the kids. let’s for giggles put him with barron, #43 or another winger of your choice and give the line more ice. make it a hard to play against line that could score.

  • Bad thing is doesn’t look like Gallant will make us a very physical team as plenty of players under him in Vegas and Florida played soft.

  • Gallant’s resume is thin and he doesn’t embrace analytics. He’s the frontrunner in name/hype only

  • I don’t really know a whole lot about Gallant other than him having two damn good years, one in Florida and one in Vegas, but then getting canned not too long afterward by each team. That part has to be fleshed out in his interviews with the Rangers. But if the Rangers asked permission to speak to him, then he is seriously in the running.

    Boudreau, I don’t know, yet another retread in some respects but has had some success

    Hartley has won the cup, which is something some of the others mentioned have not done. Seems like a pretty solid candidate. Also, we have a lot of Russians on the team and he has been coaching in the KHL.

    Rob B. is not leaving Carolina any time soon. He’s a fine coach, but not available.

    Rich Tocchet? Nah, not enough winning.

    Mark Messier? Please, he is a great hockey player but being a captain is nowhere near the same as being a head coach. You want him around? Make him an assistant and let him learn the job.

    John Tortorella? Great hockey coach in many respects. Passionate and a royal pain in the ass. If you want your team to play hard, you can’t go wrong with Torts. But, he can burn a team out. Still, I’d say he is one of the top three choices they could make, but I believe that he is unlikely to be brought back again.

  • As much as I love Torts, I think Gallant is the right coach at the right time for the Ranger franchise. Gerard is low key and will very quietly get the Rangers playing together as a team. He keeps the business of the club in the room and has high expectations of his players. He is a coach that knows what it takes to win in the NHL.

    • yeah, for a season, then the mediocrity sets in, at which point he’s banished to the taxi stand–again.

  • If we need fire, grit and blood and guts on the Rangers’ Tort’s is the man, but I’m not sure how beneficial he would be with the young players. He would probably help the defensive side of the game. Overal though, I have more confidence in Gallant who all around, I believe is a better coach

  • I don’t understand why Babcock isn’t a real candidate for the Rangers head coaching job. Besides Torts and Julien, he’s the only one who’s won a cup. Plus he has a better winning % than both of them. He may be the best coach available and I’m sure the issues that he had in Toronto were small. He may have messed up in how he treated his players but when it came to winning, he turned a young, raw Toronto team into a playoff team in like two seasons. The leafs went to seven games in like 2016 vs the Caps! I don’t get it.

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