The Rangers have announced that they and Gerard Gallant have “mutually agreed to part ways.”
Gallant was under contract for next season and had a club option after that. (LeBrun)
Chris Drury said “I want to first thank Gerard for his work and commitment to the Rangers during his time as head coach. I have a ton of respect for Gerard as both a coach and person and truly appreciate everything he did for us on and off the ice these last two seasons. After my evaluation of the season and discussions with Gerard, we mutually came to the conclusion that a change would be beneficial for both parties. I wish he and his family all the best in the future. Our search for a new head coach will begin right away.”
Gallant said “I would like to thank Mr. Dolan, Chris and the Rangers organization for giving me the opportunity to be their head coach these last two seasons. The experience of coaching an Original Six franchise with such rich history and an incredibly passionate fanbase is something I will never forget. After conversations with my family and Chris, it became clear that this was the right decision for both myself and the Rangers at this time.”
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Adam Rotter: This was what was expected after Monday’s loss, though it did take an extra couple of days than I thought it would.
On his record, Gallant did not deserve to be fired. Two straight 100 point seasons and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals should buy you some time, but this was the right move.
Gallant was the best choice available during the Rangers coaching search after David Quinn was fired. He came as someone who could bring immediate success to a team, which he did, but also the lingering question and hazy answers about why it ended for him so abruptly in Florida and then in Vegas. He was fired in the middle of his third year with each team and he didn’t even get that far with the Rangers.
In replacing Quinn, Gallant brought a much more hands-off approach and he rode that, Igor Shesterkin and the PP, to a Jack Adams nomination last year. He exceeded expectations last year behind the bench of a team that seemed like it was already on the cusp of making the playoffs. He certainly deserves some credit for last year, but I’ve often wondered if the Rangers would have had similar success last season had they stuck with David Quinn. He had his faults last year, but the excitement of winning again papered over a lot of them.
What changed this year? Standings wise, not much. The Rangers ended up in third place rather than second and had a few less points, but there was the stretch early in the season where they were blowing leads and losing, games where they were only playing for maybe a period/period and a half, and without the intensity or urgency that a team with his aspirations should have. Then Jacob Trouba threw his helmet, the PP started to get going, Igor Shesterkin started making more saves and instead of finding ways to lose games, the Rangers started to find ways to win again.
Then there was the trade deadline acquisitions and the struggle to find the best and most comfortable spots for Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane.
We don’t know if Chris Drury is the one who wanted so many things changed to involve Patrick Kane or if that was all Gallant’s doing, but rather than fit Patrick Kane in around what the Rangers already had, Kane was forced into different spots and most and worst of all, he was forced onto a PP unit that didn’t need him. He’s Patrick Kane and one of the best players ever, but the PP had a style, system and players in placements that worked…until Mika Zibanejad was moved out of his spot and everyone tried forcing passes. The Rangers didn’t need Patrick Kane, and again, maybe this came from the top and not Gallant, but he was forced into things and places he didn’t need to be. He said that he wanted to get Vladimir Tarasenko more ice time and as the head coach, that was something he had the ability to grant.
Then there was the series against the Devils. Had they lost in seven with every game being a one-goal game, highly competitive and really a coin flip, maybe this doesn’t happen. But after jumping out 2-0 and realizing their on-paper potential in Game 2, the Rangers went flat and over the final five games they played about 35 good minutes. The Devils adjusted, shut the Rangers down and deserve a lot of credit. But the Rangers knew how the Devils wanted to play, they knew how the Devils wanted to defend and they never did anything about it. Then there was just the awful showing in Game 7. It all added up and then you combine all the stuff behind the scenes that we don’t know about and a parting of the ways seem best for everyone.
Again, he’s not totally deserving of being fired, but why bring him back if he’s just going to enter next season on a scorching hot seat? Someone had to take the fall and with making this move can allow Chris Drury to bring back most of the same team and hope that someone else can get the most out of them.
How much of a role did James Dolan play in this? That is something that will come out over time. The story from December was that he wanted Gallant to be more accountable for what was going on. That makes sense as, at least I felt, that sometimes Gallant came across a little bit detached after games and that his comments didn’t really reflect how the team performed. I think that James Dolan probably wants his coaches to be a bit more like John Tortorella than the hands-off/players coach style that Gallant had. I’m not sure how that will impact how gets hired next, but my guess is that it will be a bit more of a hard-nosed coach.
I would not be surprised if Gallant is behind a bench again next season. Columbus, where he had coached earlier in his career, would make sense. Calgary, after moving on from Darryl Sutter, would make sense, especially with his history coaching Jonathan Huberdeau. He’s the right coach in certain situations, but in one year here it went from being the right kind of situation to the wrong kind of situation.