Rangers head coach Peter laviolette, left, and general manager Chris...

Rangers head coach Peter laviolette, left, and general manager Chris Drury pose during Laviolette's introductory press conference on Tuesday in Tarrytown, N.Y. Credit: Corey Sipkin

GREENBURGH — Peter Laviolette earned his first two points as Rangers coach with a winning introductory news conference on Tuesday. He struck the right balance between being personable and humble to what it means to coach this Original Six franchise while also communicating clearly his core beliefs and how he will implement them with his new team — his sixth! — to pursue the goal of breaking a Stanley Cup drought that stretches to 1994.

Of course, winning or losing a  news conference is no predictor of actual performance, the notable exception of Adam Gase’s meme-generating introduction to New York before the disastrous incompetence of his two seasons as Jets coach aside.

Besides, it’s not Laviolette who needed the win on Tuesday. At 58 and with a resume of taking teams to the playoffs — including a Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006 and Cup Final appearances with the Flyers in 2010 and the Predators in 2017 — he may still have another stop or two left in his coaching career if things go south with the Rangers.

No, it’s Rangers president/general manager Chris Drury who desperately needs the two points with his second coaching hire.

Drury parted ways with his first coach, Gerard Gallant, on May 6, five days after the Rangers no-showed in Game 7 of their first-round series with the Devils with a 4-0 loss. It took Drury five-and-a-half weeks before finally naming Laviolette as the successor.

Gallant, hired after Drury fired John Davidson/Jeff Gorton holdover David Quinn, went 99-46-19 in two seasons and guided the Rangers to the Eastern Conference finals against the Lightning in 2022. The Rangers finished with 110 points in Gallant’s first season — when he was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award as the league’s top coach — and 107 in his last.

But speculation that Drury and Gallant did not necessarily see eye-to-eye was rampant around NHL cities even before the playoffs began. A reported playoff disagreement only heightened that speculation.

To be fair, who knows what goes on behind closed doors and such speculation could have been just that, uninformed speculation.

Regardless, it is more on Drury to make this relationship with Laviolette a lasting one more so than it is on the latest new coach.

Unlike the Drury-Gallant pairing, Drury does have a past history with Laviolette.

Laviolette was Drury’s coach on Team USA at the Winter Olympics in 2006 — Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, who might have been Drury’s first choice had he become available, was Laviolette’s assistant that year — as well as at the IIHF World Championships.

“It’s a partnership,” Drury said while seated next to Laviolette at the podium at the Madison Square Garden Training Center. “Working together and picking his brain on different things already. He’s going to do the same with me on players and different things. I think you’ve got to be on the same page in a lot of different ways.”

So true, so true.

“He’s only been officially hired for a week but it feels like a long time,” Drury said. “I was fortunate to play for Peter a long time ago, so we have a little bit of history. But it feels like we are in lockstep already in what we want to accomplish and how we want to accomplish it.”

Of course, the proof will be in the performance. But there are reasons to think Drury and Laviolette will make a good team beyond their shared history.

Laviolette’s description of how he wants the Rangers to play — solid defense but an aggressive attack — recalls the prime of Drury’s playing career.

And Laviolette’s self-identification of a blue-collar work ethic also mirrors Drury’s mentality.

“I grew up in Massachusetts and my parents were blue-collar people and worked really hard,” said Laviolette, with his wife, Kristen, and their grown children, Jack, Peter and Elizabeth, beaming from their reserved seats in the front two rows.

“I think when you are around that, it becomes generational, if you are observant of it every day on what it takes to be a hard-working person.”

So Tuesday was a promising day for the Rangers. Drury’s lasting job security almost certainly rests on building off that promise.


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