Two days following exit interviews, the New York Rangers have decided to go in a different direction. Following the abrupt exit of John Davidson and Jeff Gorton last week, new Team President and GM Chris Drury had a tough decision to make on coach David Quinn. In breaking news from NY Post reporter Larry Brooks, Quinn was dismissed along with all assistants except for goalie coach Benoit Allaire.
This move was expected by those close to the team. However, now with it official, the Rangers’ off-season just got a lot more interesting. The search for a new coach begins immediately. Given that there are several more experienced candidates available for teams looking to fill coaching vacancies, it’ll be interesting to see which direction they go.
Candidates include former Stanley Cup winners Claude Julien and John Tortorella with the latter someone the organization knows well. He coached them for over four years after replacing Tom Renney in ’08-09. They made the playoffs every year except ’09-10 when they were beaten out by the Flyers on the last day of the season. His best job came in ’11-12 when he guided a young team to the Eastern Conference’s best record. They advanced to the team’s first Conference Final since ’96-97, but came up short against the Devils. After a tumultuous shortened ’12-13, he was dismissed in favor of Alain Vigneault. Would the Rangers go Back To The Future literally by bringing Tortorella back? Who knows.
There are other good candidates available who have been successful. Bruce Boudreau, Gerard Gallant and Rick Tocchet are recent coaches with good track records. Gallant guided the expansion Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup Final in their first year. He was replaced by Peter DeBoer last year. Boudreau last coached the Wild before getting fired. Tocchet isn’t returning to the Coyotes despite doing a good job with a young roster that doesn’t boast the most talent. He might be the most intriguing name due to how much he squeezed out of that team.
I don’t buy Mike Babcock as a true coaching candidate. Especially after how his stint with the Maple Leafs ended. That seems like a long shot. You also had former players speak out against him for how he treated them. Once considered one of the best NHL bench bosses due to his success with the Ducks and then with the Red Wings where he won a Cup, he never guided the Leafs past the first round. Something an even more mature and deeper team is looking to change this postseason after winning the North Division.
So, what will it be? Are there other candidates who could be interviewed? I doubt they’d hire Kris Knoblauch. He did well with the Wolf Pack after Drury brought the former junior coach of Connor McDavid in. Only 42, Knoblauch was behind the Rangers’ bench for over a week due to Quinn having COVID-19. The team responded well to him. However, he’s young and isn’t experienced. Maybe they could groom him for the job in the future.
It’s really hard to say what the organization could be thinking. It isn’t like Quinn did a bad job in his three years. Maybe they just felt he wasn’t the right coach to get the team to that big next step. With the playoffs a must for next season, the time for patience has run out under Garden CEO James Dolan. He feels with the talent they now have along with Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad, it’s time for the Blueshirts to get back to the postseason. They’ve missed it the last four years.
Whatever the case, we’ll see where that takes them. A new era is about to begin on Broadway. The question is what other changes are coming this summer. It’s gonna be interesting.