New York Rangers: A sea of stability in the NHL (we think)

Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant
Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant /
Head coach Gerard Gallant of the Vegas Golden Knights
Head coach Gerard Gallant of the Vegas Golden Knights /

Another coach bit the dust today as the Vegas Golden Knights fired coach Gerard Gallant.  The New York Rangers are looking like the Rock of Gibraltar when it comes to NHL stability.

So far, seven NHL coaches have been fired and we are only halfway through the season.  Gerard Gallant of the Golden Knights join Peter Laviolette, Peter DeBoer. John Hynes, Jim Montgomery, Mike Babcock and Bill Peters.

Since the end of last season, 14 teams have new coaches, almost half the teams in the NHL. Believe it or not, New York Rangers coach David Quinn is now 13th longest in terms of tenure out of the 31 coaches currently employed.

The crazy thing, is of that DeBoer and Hynes have already found new jobs and considering their track records, Gallant, Babcock and Laviolette won’t be unemployed for long.  All of these changes should make Ranger fans happy that their team has a plan and is sticking to it.

The simple fact is that after a turbulent start in New York, Glen Sather has instilled some order into the team’s leadership and ownership is letting the team make its own decisions.  True, the team has completely remade its front office in the last two years, but with none of the turmoil found elsewhere.

Consider this.  In Sather’s first four years as general manager, he ran through coaches Ron Low, Bryan Trottier, Sather himself and Tom Renney.   Since he hired John Tortorella  in 2009, he’s had three coaches in 11 years.

Even the transition for Sather to semi-retirement went smoothly with Jeff Gorton taking over fulltime as GM. John Davidson coming on board as team president seemed natural and it was accomplished with no controversy.


Okay, enough of the happy talk about the Rangers management situation. Whenever a quality coach becomes available, there is immediate speculation about a potential landing spot.  Gallant is an intriguing option for any team.   He has guided the Florida Panthers and Vegas to first place finishes and the fact that he took an expansion team in its first year to the Stanley Cup Finals was one of the most incredible sports stories of the decade.

The Knights canned him while the team is all of three points out of first place in the Pacific Division, hardly a disastrous season.  One important factor is that Gallant was not the choice of Vegas General Manager Kelly McCrimmon who took over last season from George McPhee.

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Peter Laviolette doesn’t get the love he deserves for his coaching record.  He is a Stanley Cup Champion with the Carolina Hurricanes and he has guided the Canes, Philadelphia Flyers and Nashville Predators to first place finishes and Conference championships.  He is 16th on the all-time coaching wins list and is one of eight active coaches to have won a Cup.

For what it’s worth, Laviolette also has Ranger roots.  They are the only NHL team he has ever played for and he started his career in the Rangers’ minor league system.

The X factor in all of this is John Davidson.  He has been very positive in his interviews when talking about Gorton and Quinn, but it’s always worth remembering that he didn’t hire them.  There’s no reason to believe that he is unhappy, but if we have learned anything this NHL season, blindsides happen.

There have been a few bumps in the road this season, most notably involving Lias Andersson and Vitali Kravtsov.  There have also been some missteps including the Kevin Shattenkirk and Brendan Smith signings and potentially, the Brady Skjei contract.  While Davidson has been supportive of his management team, you never know what he is thinking.

The memory of the St. Louis Blues last season looms large. The team fired Mike Yeo, commonly acknowledged as one of the good young coaches in the NHL and replaced him with NHL journeyman Craig Berube, as interim coach. We all know what happened.

The question has to be asked.  Is John Davidson convinced that Jeff Gorton is the guy to move forward with the rebuild?  And does Davidson think  David Quinn the right coach for this team as it get closer to becoming a playoff contender?   All indication are that Davidson is on board and this can just be talked up to silly speculation.

Only time will tell.

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