The Rangers, in hiring Gerard Gallant as their next head coach on Monday, went with the coach who seemed to be the front-runner since the organization’s shocking shakeup last month.
And if you ask NBC’s NHL analyst Pierre McGuire, Gallant was a front-runner for a reason.
“I think Gerard is right at the top of that list,” McGuire told Moose & Maggie on Tuesday. “I like Rob Brind’Amour a lot. I think he’s gonna coach in the NHL next year and I think he’s going to coach wherever he chooses to coach with whatever is left open…Patrick Roy has done some tremendous things in hockey, I just don’t know if he was the right fit for what the Rangers are trying to do right now.”
Brind’Amour could have been an option with his contract expiring with the Hurricanes, but New York decided to go with Gallant, who arrives with a proven track record that includes a Coach of the Year award with the Golden Knights in 2018, when he led the first-year expansion team on an improbable run to the Stanley Cup.
“I watched what Gerard did in Vegas,” McGuire said. “I did every single Vegas game during the playoffs that year, at least the last two rounds, and what Gerard did with the Vegas Golden Knights was unbelievable. It really was. As a first-year expansion team, getting them to the Stanley Cup was phenomenal. It was an amazing accomplishment and he deserves a lot of credit for that.”
This time around, Gallant will be trying to bring an original six squad back to the pinnacle of the hockey world, rather than leading a new team there for the first time. With Gallant behind the bench, McGuire believes the Rangers have the pieces in place to reach those heights as soon as this coming season.
“No question about it,” McGuire said when asked if New York now has the pieces to make it to the Cup next season. “I think Chris Drury can as well as a general manager. I didn’t agree with John and Jeff being released of their duties…I was flabbergasted and shocked that it actually happened. That being said, Chris Drury was part of that architecture of building that plan to rebuild the Rangers. I think they’ve done a fantastic job of it. Chris has now taken it to the next level, and I think Gerard can get it there.”
Gallant reminded the hockey world of his coaching ability earlier this month, when he led Team Canada to a gold medal at the World Championship after starting the tournament with three straight losses. The nine-year NHL head coach has a reputation for pushing his players, no matter how young and unseasoned, which McGuire thinks makes for a great fit with New York’s young core that is looking to accelerate its current rebuild.
“I think what people won’t understand is that there is a serious generosity to Gerard as a human being but also a coach,” McGuire said. “He sees guys struggling, he’ll help them get through it. He sees guys are not working as hard as they have to, he’ll push them to the next level. He really communicates well with the players. I love the fact that he understands the new NHL with the red line being out. He’s really embraced the new ideology of how to create offense, and I think that will play really well to the strengths of the New York Rangers.”
One of the Rangers’ strengths is youth, and McGuire believes with Gallant in the fold, the pieces are there to bring it all together and get New York out of its four-year playoff drought.
“The New York Rangers are an unbelievably skilled young team,” McGuire said. “Their future is amazingly bright.”