To say this past week and a half have been a whirlwind for the Rangers would be a massive understatement. Last Monday was the Tom Wilson incident. Tuesday saw “The Statement,” in which they criticized NHL Player Safety and called the head of it, George Parros, unfit for his job. Come Wednesday, president John Davidson and general manager (GM) Jeff Gorton had been fired, and former assistant GM Chris Drury had taken on both roles. The next day, the league slammed the Rangers with a $250,000 fine for their statement. That’s more drama than most teams see over the course of an entire season, and yet it still wasn’t done. Today, the Rangers fired head coach David Quinn, along with assistant coaches David Oliver, Jacques Martin, and Greg Brown. Goalie coach Benoit Allaire was the only coach who survived the cut.
I can’t say I’m surprised by this move, but that doesn’t mean I understand it. Yes, there have been (and reportedly still are, albeit to a lesser extent) some issues in the locker room, but that’s not all on Quinn. The Rangers were trending in the right direction, and are widely considered to have one of the brightest futures in the league. All three of the main firings were a big part of it. David Quinn is a developmental coach, and all the Rangers young players, from Kappo Kakko, to Alexis Lafreniere, to Adam Fox, made huge strides under him. Several of the team’s veterans, including Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, and Chris Kreider had career seasons under him too. Was he a perfect coach? Absolutely not. No coach is. But was he deserving of being fired? Hell no.
So, Why Was This Done?
My best guess as to why this was done is owner James Dolan wanted it to be. After all, he was the mastermind behind the Davidson and Gorton firings. If Dolan truly believes the Rangers underachieved this season (which is asinine, but again, I digress), then it makes sense that he’d want David Quinn gone too. So, he probably didn’t give Drury, who is known to have a great relationship with Quinn, a choice.
To be frank, the more Dolan meddles with this team, the further away from his playoff goal they’re going to get. Glen Sather, the president-turned-GM-turned-advisor, had long been able to keep Dolan’s hands off the team. Somehow, he seems to have lost that grip. Every team Dolan gets his hands on goes down the drain (see: the Knicks). So, if the Rangers want to continue on their upward trajectory, Sather needs to figure out how to get Dolan to back off and give Drury a significant amount of freedom again.
Who Could Be the Next Coach?
There have been several names thrown out there when it comes to the Rangers next coach. But, all we know for sure at this point is that they’ll be looking to an experienced coach. The big names that are being floated around right now are John Tortorella, Rick Tocchet, and Gerard Gallant. Bruce Boudreau and Claude Julien could be sleeper picks as well (although the latter’s reputation for not being good with young players, which is not necessarily warranted, may keep the Rangers away).
Could Torts Return to New York?
Tortorella was previously with the Rangers from 2008-2013, and he and Dolan reportedly have a very good relationship. That’s likely why his name has been floated around as much as it has. I’m not sure he’s the best pick, as he is an incredibly difficult coach to play for. That doesn’t always go over well with young players. But, he might be just what they need to. In my opinion, it’s definitely a situation where it would either go really terribly or really well, and there’s no in between. So, he’s a big risk, and considering how adamant Dolan is that the Rangers need to make the playoffs soon, that might keep them away.
That Being Said, Tocchet, Gallant Better Options
As for Tocchet, I think he could be a good choice. He was just with a young Coyotes team, and he helped get them trending in the right direction. They may not be great still, but that’s more due to personnel then Tocchet himself. He had a lot of success as an assistant coach in Pittsburgh, and helped them to their back-to-back Stanley Cups. He’s not the most experienced option available, but he has enough of it that he should be high on the Rangers radar. He’s a lower-risk option than Tortorella, with a similar reward potential.
All of that being said, the Rangers best option is Gerard Gallant. If there are still issues in the locker room, Gallant will be able to get rid of them. If he can’t, no one can. He took a bunch of misfits and brought them to the Stanley Cup Final in their first season, which just speaks to his ability to unite players for a common cause. However, while he may be the best option available, I’m not sure how likely it is he goes to New York. The Kraken are seemingly quite interested in him. If they decide they really want him, they’re going to get him. So, he might not be available after all. However, if he is, the Rangers need to pounce on him.
All in all, I could see this move coming, but I’m still not convinced it was necessary. I think it would’ve been smart to give David Quinn at least another year to see what he could do with Drury as GM. However, Dolan is clearly impatient, and while it’s unreasonable of him to be just three years after they announced the rebuild, it’s reality. I would think this is the last big personnel change (not counting players) for the Rangers this summer, frankly because there’s no one else to fire. So, now we just get to sit back and see how it all works for them.
-Lydia Murray (@lydia_murray12)
Featured image courtesy of Getty Images.
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