As the offseason continues, the New York Rangers head coach options will become clearer. Throughout the past week in the aftermath of the Gerard Gallant dismissal, almost every single name possible has been tied to the Rangers. Joel Quenneville, Mike Babcock, Kris Knoblauch, Peter Laviolette, and more have all had their names mentioned. But are any of these guys actual Rangers head coach options?
Joel Quenneville / Mike Babcock
Both Quenneville and Babcock have been tied to the Rangers. The Quenneville rumor was refuted rather quickly, which was good to see. The Rangers don’t need that unnecessary PR with a move like that.
Babcock’s name came up recently, and it wasn’t overly surprising to see his name as one of the Rangers head coach options, but it wasn’t exactly expected either. Babcock hasn’t coached since being fired by the Toronto Maple Leafs and allegations of extreme verbal abuse.
It is worth noting that Babcock hasn’t had much success, especially recently. His Red Wings Cup team had four Hall of Famers plus Brian Rafalski and the best season of Chris Osgood’s career.
Neither Quenneville nor Babcock are realistic options.
Until he’s let go by the Penguins, he’s not one of the Rangers head coach options. We do know, and have known since at least November, that he was and always has been Chris Drury’s top choice.
Interestingly enough, Bruce Boudreau’s name hasn’t really been mentioned too much. He’s more of a player’s coach than a vocal guy in the locker room though. So while he might get much more out of the team offensively, something the team sorely needs, he’d be a very similar style of coach.
There’s an argument that the Rangers need a guy to whip them into shape, and Boudreau isn’t really that kind of guy. He’s great when it comes to generating offense and possession though. He’s not the best option, but he’s far from the worst option.
Daryl Sutter’s name was first mentioned here by Rob, and it was met with the expected response. Of all the NY Rangers head coach options, Sutter is the one that would likely be the most divisive, not including Quenneville and Babcock. Sutter gets results, but he does so at the expense of his relationship with the players.
It’s hard to argue with Sutter’s results on the ice though. He won two Cups in LA and his teams are consistently in the upper half of the league in shot share and xG share. He flamed out in Calgary due to poor goaltending, and they barely missed the playoffs despite that. There’s a strong argument that he would bring the kick in the pants the Rangers need. But at what cost?
Sutter generally has his teams playing a bit more conservative, which likely won’t mesh well with the current roster. In addition to the skill level, you do have to wonder if he’s the guy that would get through to Artemi Panarin and Alexis Lafreniere. History shows he isn’t.
Of all the Rangers head coach options mentioned so far, Laviolette is the only retread that makes some sense. A Cup winner with Carolina, Laviolette generally likes to play a more aggressive style, but is known to tailor his systems based on personnel. His success with Nashville highlights those adjustments to a more conservative system based on his roster.
Laviolette hasn’t seen much success since Nashville though. He’s a good blend of systems and the right personality, but he’s another retread.
Did you know that only one head coach has won a Stanley Cup with multiple teams? It’s Scotty Bowman.
Not a single other retread that has won a Cup previously has gone on to win another with his new team. None. It’s not the best argument against a retread, but it certainly is something to consider when looking at the Rangers head coach options.
Which brings us to Kris Knoblauch. Knoblauch has no NHL experience, but he has proven himself a good coach wherever he’s gone. He won a WHL championship with Kootenay in 2011. He coached Alex Debrincat, Dylan Strome, Anthony Cirelli, Warren Foegele, and Erik Cernak to an OHL championship in 2017.
He spent two seasons as an assistant with the Flyers, coaching high skill players like Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, and Sean Couturier.
He’s now been the Hartford head coach since 2019-2020, working with Chris Drury and John Davidson to help restore the Wolf Pack’s reputation from dumpster fire to respectable AHL franchise. In doing so, he’s worked with current Rangers Filip Chytil, Ryan Lindgren, Igor Shesterkin, and Braden Schneider, and potential future Rangers Will Cuylle, Zac Jones, and Matthew Robertson.
Plus he has experience with some AAAA players like Jonny Brodzinski, Libor Hajek, and Jake Leschyshyn.
Of the Rangers head coach options, Knoblauch is the most unknown of the bunch, comes with the highest level of risk, but also comes with the highest reward. It seems to be him or Laviolette at the moment. Laviolette is a retread that may fit the systems/communication need. Knoblauch is the unknown who appears ready for The Show.
Jon Cooper. Jared Bednar. Coaches need to start somewhere.