The Rangers have announced that Kris Knoblauch has been named head coach of the Hartford Wolf Pack.
Knoblauch, 40, spent the past two seasons as an assistant with the Flyers and prior to that he served as head coach of the Kootenay Ice (WHL) in 2010-11 and 2011-12 and then head coach of the Erie Otters (OHL) from 2012-13 to 2016-17.
In seven seasons as a head coach in the CHL, Knoblauch was 298-130-16-13.
As a head coach, Knoblauch’s teams have won the WHL championship in 2010-11 and OHL championship in 2016-17.
From the Rangers release:
- Over his seven seasons as a head coach in either the OHL or WHL, Knoblauch played a key role in the development of numerous players who are currently in the NHL, including Connor McDavid, Alex DeBrincat, Sam Reinhart, Dylan Strome, Andre Burakovsky, Anthony Cirelli, Erik Cernak, Connor Brown, and Travis Dermott
He was a 7th round pick of the Islanders in 1997 but never played in the NHL.
While an assistant with the Flyers under Dave Hakstol he ran the PP and prior to joining Philly he had conversations with the Sabres and Kings. (CSN Philly)
His GM with Erie, Dave Brown, said that Knoblauch is a “forward thinker” and someone that understands “his players’ wants and needs.” (CSN Philly)
Brown said “A lot goes into Kris in how he gets them to open up and listen to what he wants them to get done. He talks to them to find out what they think will work … he’s not a guy who jams things down your throat. When you make suggestions, he is more likely to listen.” (CSN Philly)
Brown added that Knoblauch is “a teacher by trade and the perfect teacher-turned-coach would be Kris Knoblauch.” (CSN Philly)
TSN’s Craig Button said when Knoblauch was hired by the Flyers, “he is smart. He’s intuitive. He’s a very clear communicator. He understands and knows that things don’t always go as planned. He takes responsibility. He doesn’t blame. He’s creative and always looking for solutions. He’s in control, but collaborative. Knows that others may have a better solution or improvement. He cedes the spotlight. It’s never about him.” (CSN Philly)
Craig Button told CSN Philly, when Knoblauch was hired by the Flyers, that Knoblauch is “absolutely loved” by the players he coaches but that they also know he will hold them accountable.
Dave Brown, the GM while Knoblauch was the coach of the Erie Otters, says that Knoblauch is a “teacher by trade” and that he has no problem sitting with players and “spelling out expectations.” (CSN Philly)
Chicago’s Alex DeBrincat, who played under Knoblauch with Erie, said that Knoblauch talks a lot to his players and that helps him understand who they are and how to work with them.
Knoblauch was on WTIC radio shortly after he was hired and said:
- On why he took this job, “Hartford has been having some struggles the last few years, maybe neglected a little bit and not a priority for the Rangers organization. With Jeff Gorton putting an emphasis on drafting and development, it felt like a great time to join the team.”
- On his beliefs, “I believe that developing, skills and system and that players are ready for the NHL. Any organization in the NHL, if you are developing players it is important to win, but you have to balance those two things. They appreciated the winning I did in junior hockey but also the players that went to the NHL and had success.”
Chris Drury said that Knoblauch checked “all the boxes” of what they were looking for in a Wolf Pack coach and that the team is really excited about his experience helping numerous players not only become NHLers but “terrific NHL players.” (NYR)
Adam Rotter: On paper the Rangers seem to have done a good job of finding a David Quinn-type of clone that communicates well, teaches and knows how to develop players. This will be his first shot at being a head coach at the pro level but with the success he had at the junior level, and the two-years as an assistant in the NHL, this is a natural next step in his own progression as a coach. Over the next few seasons the Rangers are going to have a number of important pieces spend time in Hartford and after a long search they have settled on Knoblauch being the guy to work with those players.