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2021-22 Rangers

What Gerard Gallant said on Wednesday

Rangers coach Gerard Gallant met with the media on the first day of training camp and said (NYR):

  • What are your main goals for this camp, “I think we come into camp and you get to see the players skate in informal skates the past three weeks and the biggest thing that I talk about is make sure we are the hardest working team in the league. I brought that up a few times and that is what I hope we do. The skill and the talent is great, but if you don’t have the work ethic to go with it you are not going to go a long way. I hope everybody gets the message that we are going to work hard and compete hard every day. We know we’ve got some skill and talent and made some changes to our roster, obviously, I like the make up of our team right now.”

  • On how he wants this team to play, “let’s be honest, everybody has their systems and there is not a big difference in NHL teams, a lot of us do the same things, it’s about executing and believing in your systems and getting 23-guys to buy in and execute. I just want to make sure that our guys are ready everyday, prepare the same way. Tomorrow is day one, let’s get everybody on the same page and playing the same way and working and competing hard and seeing what happens.”
  • What have you been doing to get to know the players, “not a lot, they circle in and come for their skates, the odd-guy walks by and picks up his lunch and says ‘hello coach’ and you get to meet guys a little bit, but not spending a whole lot of time with them right now, they are doing their thing, we are doing our things as coaches to get ready and it’s nice to just casually meet them.”
  • On the need for a captain with this group, “I think it’s real important, there is no doubt. I don’t know for sure right now is going to happen, but if I was a betting man I think we are going to have a captain day one. Day one, NHL regular season. It could be before that, I don’t know. It’s a priority, but we are getting ready for camp, meeting the players and that…if I was betting we will have a captain.”
  • What do you want your captain to be, “Captains are important to your team, but 23-guys are more important to me. Some teams don’t have captains, Vegas we didn’t have one, we were an expansion team, that is the way we went and I think it made a lot of guys buy in and a lot of good leaders. Whoever gets the “C” on our hockey team isn’t going to be alone, we need everybody to be a leader. For my type of team, it’s 23-guys being ready, whether you are 18-years old or 40-years old, everybody has to take a big part of it and that is when you take your steps, when you have 23-guys buying in and the boys knew it was from 23-players, not from two.”
  • Is there a particular reason you think this team needs a captain, “No, not really. Me and Dru discussed it a little bit, we talked about it a little bit with assistant coaches and everybody else, some of the players, I think, talked about it last year that they would like a captain. There are some good choices, obviously, some good veteran players, leadership here and like I said, to me it’s not a big, big deal, but I know it’s important in a market like this and the discussions we had will lead towards having a captain.”
  • How quickly would you like to find combinations, “I think the first couple of games you will see a lot more people play a different game, different spots, but I think the last 2-3 games you are going to see a lot more line combinations, a little bit more of the roster and we will see from there. People come to camp and they want to get looked at and we just had rookie and development camp and some kids showed real well and played well and deserve a chance to play an NHL exhibition game. We will give them the opportunity and then game 4-5 we will make some big decisions and get a lot closer to our team, for sure.”
  • How much emphasis do you put on the exhibition games for veterans, “No, not a lot. I’m a new coach coming in here, a lot of these players are the same guys from last year and played with different personnel and I just think we are going to put some lines together and sometimes you might see the combination that I see you guys put out there in media and a lot of good lines there and you like what you see, but we will experiment with different things for sure, but the quicker I get to the last two games and the line combinations together and start the regular season, but lines change all the time. I’d like, in a perfect world, to have your four lines set and away you go, but things change all the time.”
  • Will you put Lafreniere on the right side, “As long as he likes it over there, he will get an opportunity to play over there, maybe, yea, he’s a young kid. We want those kids playing a lot of hockey, I don’t care if you are 18 or 35-years old, come and play, show up and show you deserve the ice time and you will get it. It’s all about what they want to do and we talk about taking another step as a team, it’s not just the young kids, it’s about everybody taking another step to get to where we want to get.”
  • Do you envision Zibanejad and Panarin together or apart, “It’s too early to say. I want to see them. I don’t want one lines that is going to stack up and the other lines aren’t as strong, I think we can put together some line combos and everything works with that, but I’m not set with any one line right now.”
  • Is there room for a surprise player to make the team,  “we all know what it’s like, you have a salary cap, but that is what we have training camp for, we love surprises, maybe it doesn’t work out right away, maybe down the road different things go, but we want every kid coming in here, doing his best, pushing for a spot on our roster and I don’t think our roster is too good in the NHL, if you see someone do real well in those exhibition games, not to give them an opportunity. We will see where it goes and shakes down and me and Chris will sit and talk with the rest of the staff, but that is what we want, every year we want someone coming in here and pressing for a job and trying to take somebodies job, but at the same hand you hope your veterans come in here and earn their job.”
  • On splitting the goalies, “We’ve got three capable goalies, you look at it and say, is this guy gonna play 60 or this guy play 20, that isn’t how I do things, we do it one day at a time and go from there. You come to camp, work hard, get ready for the season, that is what it is all about. I’m not going to say who is going to play an amount of games now because it’s not fair to anybody.”
  • Have you talked to Lafreniere about moving to the right side, “I haven’t talked to him, no.”
  • Do you sense one of the LWs would be more comfortable on the RW, “we’ve talked about it as a staff, but not a whole lot of thought into it. Most players like to play their off side, especially skilled players like Lafreniere, Kakko. If they play the right side and feel comfortable there, maybe they will start over there.”
  • On Kaapo Kakko, “He’s a big, strong kid that is a kid and getting better and I think he’s going to be a great player for us. It’s an opportunity for him to take a big step this year and hopefully we give him that opportunity and hopefully he takes advantage of it because you gotta earn your ice time, that is what it is all about, you can’t give anything to people that don’t deserve it, but this kid is a good hockey player and I think he’s going to be a real good player in this league for a long time and we hope it takes off in the first game of the season.”
  • Does it matter that certain players have experience together, “You look at little bit at what they’ve done, but to be honest with you, it’s a fresh start. My last opportunity was in Las Vegas and 31 guys came from different teams. You can put things together and they click real well, I’m not worried about that, I’m worrying about getting a solid group together, playing hard together and well together and it’s our job as coaches to say that this is a good fit, lets leave this for a while and hopefully it stays this way.”
  • On the assistant coach responsibilities, “we talked about it a lot. Mike Kelly is going to be doing the PP, Gord Murphy doing the PK and myself and Jim Midgely will assist them both. It’s not one thing where one guy goes over there and does all the work, we are there every day, there is four of us in one big office and we discuss everything as a group. If the PK and PP doesn’t go well we aren’t going to blame that one guy.”
  • Is everybody on the bench, “We are going to have three on the bench for sure. I’ve had both, sometimes that fourth guy on the bench is really important with the iPad and stuff, we will see how it goes, but the last couple of years I’ve had four on the bench.”
  • On Nils Lundkvist, “I watched him last week and he had a good camp at the rookie camp and a highly touted young player coming over, but it’s a good opportunity. Let’s come out and have a good training camp and exhibition games and see where it goes. There is opportunity for some guys to make the the team with some spots, but you have to earn it. We will see what happens, but there are a lot of guys with that same opportunity.”
  • What did you like from Lundkvist, “his skill and his talent level, there is no doubt. The way he shoots the puck, he skates, he’s smooth, it’s just a matter of…it’s a smaller rink over here, so he has to get used to that too, but he’s a good talented hockey player and we see him as a top-end player.”
  • Do you like having left/right split on defense, “No, it doesn’t matter to me, whatever they feel comfortable with, but it’s not a big, big deal to me.”
  • On Ryan Reaves, “I had him for two-years in Vegas and he’s a physical player, brings that element to your hockey team and he can still play the game, he goes up and down, plays a defensive game and I watch a lot of hockey and we brought more grit to your team and you have to have grit. You look at the teams that played in the finals, Montreal/Tampa, Tampa was a great team, they won the Cup the last two years and I think it was because of what they added. They had their great star players, but they added character and grit and that helped them win. We added a little bit of that and I think it’s going to make us a better team.”
  • Do you lay out expectations, “That won’t be laid out tonight, that will be done in a meeting room, but we’ll talk to the team and welcome them to camp and just a few expectations, but very brief tonight. Our expectations are that we are a really good hockey team, an improved team you don’t make the playoffs in the next six months, it starts tomorrow. Tomorrow is the first day of getting ready to play good hockey and we are like any other team, we expect to make the playoffs, that is what our goal is, but you just don’t say it. Talk is cheap, you gotta get ready to work hard and play hard and get ready for every day.”
  • What do you want to see when they start skating, I just want them to work hard everyday, work hard everyday and there might be, I’m not a big…I looked at the tapes from last year, the systems aren’t a big difference. It’s about executing the system and doing the right things and our team growing a year and the young kids getting a year older and we added some different elements to our hockey team, so the quicker we get together and play the same way and do the same things on the ice and come together as a team, the better we are going to be.”