Rangers hire Gallant as new head coach


The New York Rangers have made it official by hiring Gerard Gallant as their new head coach. He becomes the 36th coach in franchise history.

A more proven coach who’s guided both the Panthers and Golden Knights to the postseason, the 57-year old Gallant was the top candidate to succeed David Quinn. Gallant got his coaching start with the Blue Jackets. It took him eight years to get another opportunity in Florida. In ’15-16, he guided the Panthers to first in the Atlantic Division with a 47-26-9 record. However, they were eliminated by the Islanders in the first round. After only 11 games the following season, he was unceremoniously fired. A perplexing move.

One year later, Gallant landed on his feet by becoming the first ever coach of the expansion Vegas Golden Knights. Under him, they became a close knit unit that came together. In their inaugural season of ’17-18, Gallant led the Knights to a stunning 51-24-7 record to win the Pacific Division. That earned him the Jack Adams Award as Coach of The Year. Even better, Vegas reached the 2018 Stanley Cup Final in their first year of existence. They lost to the Capitals in five games.

After another successful year, Gallant saw his team blow Game Seven to the Sharks in crushing fashion in a wild first round. San Jose scored four times on a five-minute major. Even though Vegas forced overtime, they lost in sudden death. It was a bitter disappointment. During Year Three, the Knights were up and down in the first half of ’19-20. Following a fourth straight loss, Gallant was fired and replaced by former San Jose rival coach Peter DeBoer. In 213 games as Vegas coach, Gallant went 118-75-20.

He most recently coached Team Canada to the gold medal at the World Championships. After having a good first interview with the Rangers, Gallant had his second interview via Zoom Conference. The only other candidate they interviewed twice was former Coyotes’ bench boss Rick Tocchet. The only surprise is they didn’t wait to see what’s going on with Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour. He just completed his third season and is up for a new contract following their second round elimination to the Lightning.

The news of the Gallant hiring came down at 5 PM. Larry Brooks of the NY Post broke the story. He’s been pretty accurate recently.

The Rangers have yet to make an official announcement on Twitter. It’ll probably come tomorrow. Oddly enough, the Gallant hire comes on the 27th Anniversary of their last Stanley Cup. Hard to believe they’re halfway to 54 years. They better hope it doesn’t last a lifetime to quote Sam Rosen.

This is a good move that should change the way the Rangers play. Gallant is a no nonsense coach who expects a lot. He emphasizes a hard forecheck. Something that’s needed. There should be more defensive structure and accountability. I’m curious to see who Gallant hires as his assistants. Only Benoit Allaire was retained as goalie coach.

Will the franchise change the roster to become tougher? It would seem likely considering how easy they were to play against. Look no further than the three Islanders games that saw them outclassed. Ironically, the Islanders are back in the Final 4 and lead the Lightning one game to none. Maddening. Imagine if they win the Cup in the last year of playing at Nassau Coliseum. Yikes.

What happens next won’t be until the Stanley Cup Playoffs conclude. The off-season promises to be busy. Between the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft, NHL Draft and free agency, it’ll be an action packed summer.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of New York administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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