On Saturday, Elliotte Friedman was asked about potential candidates to replace Gerard Gallant, on the NHL Network, and said “well, I think a lot of us are kind of wondering about Joel Quenneville. Right now, as I understand it, Joel Quenneville has not been officially reinstated and I do think at some point in time he’s going to meet with the NHL and talk about if this is the right time to do it. He did speak to the AHL coaches about a month or two ago about some of the courses he’s taken and some of the things he’s done to work his way back. I know he’s been in contact with Kim Davis from the NHL about coming back, but I think there has to be a formal process here and until we get any kind of ruling or clarity on Joel Quenneville not being allowed to return, I think a lot of the search will be around his name.”
Larry Brooks mentioned Hartford coach Kris Knoblauch as a potential candidate. (NY Post)
Coaches with a connection to Chris Drury:
- Drury as World Championships GM or Assistant GM: Jack Capuano, Jeff Blashill, Dan Bylsma
- Olympic Coaches He Played Under: Peter Laviolette (2006), Ron Wilson (2010)
- World Cup Coaches He Played Under: Ron Wilson (2004 Head Coach), Peter Laviolette (2004 Assistant Coach)
Stanley Cup Winning Coaches: Joel Quenneville*, Peter Laviolette, Darryl Sutter, Dan Bylsma, Randy Carlyle, Mike Babcock, Claude Julien, Bob Hartley, Marc Crawford
From a hockey standpoint, Joel Quenneville checks nearly every box. He’s got three Stanley Cups, he’s a veteran, coached in a big market, coached elite players and this one is sort of ancillary, but was Artemi Panarin’s first coach. But it’s everything else with Quenneville that is a question. For one, Gary Bettman needs to reinstate him and while I’m guessing that will happen, do the Rangers want to deal with the PR backlash, does the league want him coaching one of their most high profile teams again? On the one hand it’s easy sell because he’s been a winner, but it’s also a hard sell for everything else.
If Quenneville can’t happen or the process is going to take too long, then I think Peter Laviolette makes sense. He’s a name, he’s coached in the division the past three years, has a Stanley Cup and has taken three teams to the Finals. He’s coached Drury before, so Drury can have some idea of what the players will deal with, but he hasn’t gotten out of the first round in 2018. Of all the retread/recycled candidates, I think he’s the best fit if Quenneville isn’t an option.
Kris Knoblauch is interesting. Drury hired him in Hartford, he seemed to impress when he came in as a Covid replacement and he’s got Hartford in the final four of the AHL Playoffs. But is he a big enough name? Does that matter? Is this the right spot for a first time NHL head coach? He seemed like the most likely choice if Gallant was to return next season and then get fired, but I’m not sure where he fits in this current search. A lot of people around the league are high on him and believe that at some point someone is going to give him an NHL Bench.
Whenever there is a coaching vacancy with the Rangers there is always the talk of Mark Messier. Mess was a candidate in 2013 and the Rangers made the right move to hire Alain Vigneault and I can’t imagine that they are going to hand a team that they think is a Stanley Cup Contender to someone with no coaching experience. Had the Rangers hired Messier when David Quinn was hired and he coached and grew with the team as it got better, like Marty St. Louis is doing with Montreal, that would make sense. But hiring him to coach a team in the spot the Rangers are in doesn’t make a ton of sense, even if it is Mark Messier.
There are other candidates. Bruce Boudreau is too much like Gallant and shouldn’t be a fit. I don’t think Darryl Sutter is a realistic candidate both for how things just went for him in Calgary and because there is a belief that the only job he would leave his farm for was with the Flames. No one seems to think Mike Babcock is coming back, but his Maple Leafs contract finally ends this year. Jeff Blashill has USA hockey connections and coached as an assistant in Tampa Bay this year, so I’m guessing he’ll get a look, but I feel like if they aren’t going to go with a former Stanley Cup winner then maybe they should take their shot with Knoblauch.