Musings

Thoughts on the Rangers firing the entire coaching staff

Being a Ranger fan is exhausting. Nine days ago, we were discussing how Tom Wilson should be suspended. A week ago, we were shocked by the firings of Jeff Gorton and John Davidson. Yesterday, we were mildly surprised by the firings of the entire Rangers coaching staff. It’s been a wild ten days, and it’s probably nowhere near done. Focusing on the coaching staff moves, I have some thoughts.

1. Dismissing Quinn wasn’t a surprise, but it wasn’t a guarantee either. Usually a new General Manager wants to put his own coach in there to make his mark. In this case, Drury was the one who was instrumental in bringing Quinn into the mix. However the product on the ice wasn’t good or consistent, and the Rangers had too much skill to be that inconsistent. The other comments, that the players didn’t know their roles, were the true indication that Quinn was going to be let go.

2. I’ve had my qualms with Quinn. While many focused on developing and playing kids, mine were focused on his systems and matchup decisions. Much ink had been spilled here about giving the blue line up by design, a byproduct of allowing too much speed through the neutral zone. That comes from a lack of a consistent forecheck, which was supposed to be a 2-1-2 but looked more like a 1-1-3. Passive hockey leads to speed against. It was all downhill from there. I do appreciate Steve Valiquette explaining the overall triangles goal, but the message and execution were poor, as was the overall system itself.

3. That said, I wasn’t really rooting one way or the other for Quinn’s future. I had assumed he was going to get one more year, or at least start the season, to see if he could transition this team into their next phase of the rebuild. Clearly the lack of a team identity, coupled with the lack of clear and discernable roles, led to his dismissal. The surprise here wasn’t firing Quinn. It wasn’t even the firings of David Oliver and Greg Brown. It was the firing of Jacques Martin.

4. Martin did wonders with the Rangers defense and penalty kill this year. There was solid structure, and the Rangers went from historically bad to a middle of the league team defensively. That’s a major turnaround and the only thing that really changed was adding Martin. He’s a defensive wizard. But in the end, any new head coach is going to want his guys there, and having a holdover from the old regime was going to make finding a new head coach more challenging.

5. As per usual, Benoit Allaire survived the entire Rangers coaching staff being fired. Allaire has been eternal. His impact everlasting. He has survived five head coaches: Glen Sather, Tom Renney, John Tortorella, Alain Vigneault, and now Quinn. It is a testament to his effectiveness and his legacy. He truly is a fantastic goalie coach.

6. The next step is finding a head coach, who will then have his own guys as assistants. I know I had wanted the “dream team” of a game manager (Gerard Gallant) with a pair of coordinators (Bruce Boudreau, Martin). It’s the NFL model, and I think it can be utilized properly in the NHL. Naturally that won’t happen. However Gallant is a solid option as a head coach. He’s a guy who got great offensive success out of his past teams. The Rangers need a good offensive mind to get the most out of their skill players. They also need a solid defensive mind to ensure they don’t fall into the same traps they did with Quinn.

7. Despite Gallant being the front runner, this search will take a while. We will hear other names come up, and we will likely hear about Tortorella, maybe Bob Hartley, and a few others. Drury probably wants the coach set before free agency. In fact, he might want the new coach in place before the Rangers make any significant roster moves. Gallant has been around the block, he knows what kind of players he will need. His systems in Vegas weren’t anything unique, but he got buy in. He’s not hired yet, so this may be premature.

8. Is there anything else that can happen this month? Or can we have a normal day or two now?

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  • You need a coach who can make in-game changes and who prepares his team for every game. Hopefully Galant, and the staff he puts together will do that. We have a core of good players, but still have many who need to step up. Adding some additional grit and talent to the team will also help the new coach.

    I would not be surprised if there wasn’t a “surprise” among the candidates for coaches. Drury needs to be aggressive and not just look at coach re-treads.

    • Maybe like the Bruce Cassidy model? Unlike the disaster in waiting named Julien, who I commented on yesterday, Cassidy came in here and wiped the slate clean from Julien’s grinding, trapping and obsessive 4th line playing ways. Up tempo and defensively responsible. He unleashed what the team was.

      Cassidy had an unsuccessful tenure in Washington on his resume, where he was disliked by his players for his abrasiveness. In short, he was kind of a dick. But he learned and is the best Bruins coach in my long memory. He clawed his way to a second NHL chance and is making the most of it.

      Long story short, I agree that a “surprise” could come out of left field. Maybe someone who’s earned his bones but is flying under the radar, rather than a retread. That said, if we’re gonna retread, I’d go for Gallant. But what ever you do Drury, NO JULIEN. That would be an utter disaster because that guy does not change. We’d be in for a nightly does of Howden’s ‘safe’ play. Arrgh…

    • what has Gallant ever won that he’s the “frontrunner” let alone a foregone conclusion as next NYR HC?

    • Our last couple of coaches have been unable to make on the fly adjustments. AV was especially horrendous, especially against the better teams, and playoffs…..

    • “Galant” [sic] isn’t a lock… all that’s been said by Brooks is that Gallant is a “potential frontrunner.”

  • Yes Dave,
    Our fearless or clueless owner could hire Tort’s again. I feel we need an experienced coach. Who understand’s the pro game. Who will teach our young talent how to be a pro.

    • Best choice? Maybe not … but he usually gets more out of the sum of the parts than he probably should. Oh, and he does give “great press conference” … oh yeah baby!

  • I don’t know some of these possible head coach replacements mentioned here, and been trying to catch up by surfing the Internet, so please if you mention candidates to replace the departed, anything you add about them is appreciated.

    Not sure sure why hockey doesn’t assemble around the head coach strong assistant coaches, like Martin. That would help the league have more head coach pickings, instead of retreads. Yes, firing Martin might have been Drury’s first mistake. Hopefully his only, but of course, that is not possible.

    We all have mentioned retreads we’d like hired, have I mentioned Torts, because he is so non-vanilla, and a bunch of high priced players need a Tort-type coach to keep them grounded) that is likely why some players don’t like him.

    In honor of Walt, thumbs downers here, know where they can put it.

    • The squeaky wheel gets the oil — the overwhelming majority of his players like him, there’s always going to be a few whiners.

      • I would like to know where you found the overwhelming amount liked him. I would venture an opinion that at the end of his tenure in NY, most players disliked him.It was written in many places that he lost the room.

        • Listen to ALL of those exit interviews from Columbus. The players know … again, he’ll PUSH you and you’ll hate him at times, but he’s honest and most players will play to their potential under him.

    • Martin has been a HC before, in Ottawa, FL, MTL but I get your point, he’s not part of the good old boys coaching carousel. I know this flies in the face of ownership’s mandate of an experienced hire for HC (which is why I don’t think Gallant will get it) but I’d be extremely pleased if Kris Knoblauch was offered the job.

  • No matter what coach you bring in this team still has a problem with it’s players and their pass all the time mentality! every coach has said the same thing about our players. So how does a new coach force guys to shoot when they want to pass so they can score the perfect goal. I’m following this team for almost 60 years and have NEVER seen one like this who constantly passes up good scoring chances right in the slot and every where else. That’s going to be the biggest problem for any coach who comes here to try and break these guys of this habit.

  • The bottom line here is that David Quinn was the first coach in Rangers history to coach over 200 games without a playoff spot. I’m sure that Dolan noticed this stat.
    The new coach will need to institute a system based on countering the opponents strengths and not use a “one size fits all” approach as Quinn did.

    • He’s also the first coach to oversee a real rebuild — or at least what passes as a real rebuild for the Rangers. I have no issue with him being fired, just saying.

    • given the number of times NYR missed the playoffs 3+ seasons in a row, that says more about how frequently the coach was than about any particular coach or (sadly) the history of team success.

  • Not to suggest he should get the coaching job, but I’m curious why Martin himself isn’t getting a “little play” here — yes, he’s associated with the previous “culture”, but he seemingly did a good job within the confines of that “culture”.

    • Martin already past his prime he has head coached 20 NHL seasons going all the way back to 1986. He is not getting anything more than assistant job anymore.

      • You mean unlike some of the other “names” being thrown out there? There are quite a few retreads — and again, I clearly stated I wasn’t suggesting he get the job. He’s certainly more qualified to coach an NHL team than say Messier, even Babcock since he’s a total DB, and he’s just as qualified and old as Boudreau.

  • Gallant–“You got out there and if you worry about making mistakes, you’re not going to play a good game. I want you going out there and thinking you’re gonna make the good plays and do the right things on the ice. So don’t worry about your mistakes.”

    That is exactly what we need, I hate when our players are playing scared of their coach’s wrath or benching. Remember Tortorella’s reactions to Avery’s minor penalty? Absolutely disgusting.

  • I think the deciding factor in the Head coach selection will be based off of leadership.

    The main issue with the roster is it has a lot of youth. I am not just talking about all the kids. I am talking about the fact that Mika, Strome, Panarin, Trouba all have less than 600 games played in the NHL. They are your leadership group on this roster.

    Drury has a decision to make on this matter. Is he going to stay with a relatively young core? Or is he going to go after older players as I have mentioned to maybe guide the ship in another direction away from the Mika’s and Panarin’s?

    Getzlaf, Soderberg, Krejci, Jumbo, Spezza, these guys all have something that the present core lacks. And that is a knowledge of what it takes to win in the NHL. Some of these players have more playoff games under their belts then all our present core have combined.

    I love Panarin, but he has a total of 30 playoff games, and he has never made it past the second round. He has only made the second round once. And it was the time columbus eliminated tampa in that sweep. Mika has the same exact resume. Kreider has the most playoff experience on our roster with 80 games. He has been to those conference finals and was on the roster when we made it to the finals.

    All this has to be factored in …the head coach is going to be largely selected on what drury’s vision is for the future of this roster will be. Is he going to put all his eggs in one basket with the present core and just go for a coach most suitable to them? Or is he going to change up the roster significantly and try to be a cup contender next year?

    I don’t want to ignore the fact that his head coach selection will also be largely based on their willingness to use analytics. I am not blind to this. Drury certainly seems to have a belief in analytics. But I think in the end…the roster turnover or lack there of will ultimately be the deciding factor in who ends up our head coach.

    I don’t see a Trotz out there in the names being listed. There are a lot of names but for the exception of maybe Torts, not a lot of proven winners, and even torts I would not want because I think his message has wore out in the nhl. He just wears players out. But I think he certainly is the type of coach this “present” roster needs.

    • Chris Kreider may have the most playoffs experience games played (80) of any present Ranger player, been to the conference finals as well as on the roster when the team made it to the finals however, with all the media, scouting hype about his speed, physical attributes what has he achieved during his tenure with the Rangers that makes them capable of being a consistent Stanley Cup contender? Knowledge of what it takes to win in the NHL? First display the heart and courage to not only show up but more importantly, play in those games that are meaningful/important when facing teams in your own division as well as in your conference and disappear all the time.

  • Maybe firing Jacques Martin was done on his own request? Could he hoped he would be hired as coach? He really helped the PK but they struggled against the top teams at season end. Was it his fault? Or do the Rangers lack stoppers? Trouba was hired to be QB for the 4 on 5s, but faulted. Then asked to play stopper, but his body cannot take it. He should be moved. They need a brute to play stopper. The players they have no are lightweights.

    Quinn was gone when they used Covid to give him time off. Kris Knoblauch won the team back in his short stint. It took Drury two years to find him. He is young, experienced, and right at home. He fits the bill. Possibly he has his own defence coach in mind.

    The Quinn experiment was not successful. He did not develop players that were not already to step into performance roles. College raised Adam Fox and K’Andre Miller were ready for MSG. Quinn did not put the draft picks in positions they could show why they were drafted so high. He was not the answer.

    There were early hints of bringing in Messier. But for some reason they never even gave him a bite. What am I missing. He is very smart. A winner. And would influence grit.

    I hope they do not bite on Eichel. These sort of grabs have not paid off in the past. Why did Drury get both titles? Gorton was never given the offer of President. He must have some holes and is limited. There are many things we really do not know. You beat bloggers only feed off each other.

    Let’s try to think out of the box.

    bc

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