Gallant is coaching Canada at the World Championships through at least June 1st.
Five of the eight first round playoff series have concluded with two possibly ending tonight and one ending tomorrow.
The coaches of the eliminated teams are:
- Washington: Peter Laviolette
- Pittsburgh: Mike Sullivan
- St. Louis: Craig Berube
- Edmonton: Dave Tippett
- Panthers: Joel Quenneville
The remaining first-round series are:
- Vegas (Pete DeBoer) and Minnesota (Dean Evason) have Game 7 of their series on Friday.
- Carolina (Rod Brind’Amour) can close out Nashville (John Hynes) tonight.
- Toronto (Sheldon Keefe) can close out Montreal (Dominique Ducharme) tonight.
It has been said that part of Chris Drury’s process to hire a new coach has been to see if any teams make a change after being eliminated.
Adam Rotter: There are a couple of things that need to play out before the Rangers have a full picture. One, and this may take a few days if it happens at all, relates to Joel Quenneville and Seattle. There has been increased chatter lately that Quenneville, despite having term and over $5 million per year on his contract, could leave the Panthers and join his old Hartford teammate Ron Francis. Now, the same has been speculated for Rick Tocchet possibly joining Seattle, but the chatter is that the Panthers and Quenneville may part ways, Q would go to Seattle, and that the Panthers would then have an opening at head coach. Now, would a call from the Rangers possibly change Quenneville’s mind about Seattle? I’d hope so, but the feeling is that if Quenneville is going to potentially give up the money he has left on his contract it’s only to go to Seattle. Then the question is who Florida brings in to replace him. It’s not going to be Gerard Gallant as the Panthers ownership has already fired him, but it could be John Tortorella. GM Bill Zito was with Torts in Columbus and Torts would make sense for where that Panthers team is.
Then there is Mike Sullivan and the Penguins after they were knocked out by the Isles. Sullivan, like Quenneville, is going to get heavy consideration for the Jack Adams Award after he steered the Penguins to the Division title during a year where the Pens were heavily banged up and had questionable goaltending. Their goaltending betrayed them against the Islanders and that isn’t on Sullivan, but the Pens haven’t had a lot of playoff success since they won the 2017 Stanley Cup and they have a new President and GM in Brian Burke and Ron Hextall. It seems unlikely that Sullivan would get let go, but if he did I think the Rangers would jump in with both feet. Chris Drury played for Sullivan when Sullivan was an assistant with the Rangers, they have BU connection and also worked together a lot with Team USA. I think Sullivan would jump to be the top choice if he became available. Rick Tocchet was a Penguins player, assistant and long-time teammate with Hextall and if they made a change he could slot in there.
There is also a situation in Vegas where the Knights are on the verge of elimination. Vegas has been a favorite for the Stanley Cup and they are a “win now” team, so a big upset loss to Minnesota could lead Pete DeBoer to lose his job. Vegas’ owner seems impatient and with the amount of Stanley Cup-winning coaches out there, I wonder if they would make a change. I think that could be a spot for Mike Babcock or Claude Julien, but it’s all speculation and could become moot if they win on Friday.
If Montreal loses there is speculation that Dominique Ducharme may not survive, but Montreal likely wouldn’t be in the market for any of the free agent coaches. Montreal is the most unique job in the NHL since it’s pretty much a requirement that the coach speaks French. Gerard Gallant has history with Montreal, but he doesn’t speak French. They would likely go in the direction of Tampa AHL coach Benoit Groulx or their own AHL coach and former Ranger Joel Bouchard. Patrick Roy would probably lobby hard for that job as well.
This is all speculation and all the teams may keep their coaches and candidate list for the Rangers will remain the same, but there is enough chatter to suggest that some more names may hit the market in the coming days.