Gerard Gallant has agreed in principle to be the Rangers’ new head coach, according to a person with knowledge of the agreement. The Rangers have not announced the hiring because Gallant has not yet signed a contract.
Gallant, 57, replaces David Quinn, who was let go after the season, days after team president John Davidson and general manager Jeff Gorton were shockingly fired just before the season ended.
Gallant, who just got done coaching Canada to a surprise gold medal in the World Championships in Riga, Latvia (the Canadians won gold after losing their first three games in the tournament), is most famous for coaching the expansion Vegas Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup final in their inaugural season of 2017-18. He was the front-runner for the Rangers job immediately after Quinn was fired, and reportedly interviewed twice with the Rangers’ new GM, Chris Drury, for the job.
The New York Post’s Larry Brooks was first to report that Gallant had been hired. The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reported Gallant is believed to have agreed to a four-year deal.
Gallant, who coached the Columbus Blue Jackets and Florida Panthers before coaching Vegas, was thought to be high on the wish list for Columbus – which had fired former Rangers coach John Tortorella after the season, and which re-hired Davidson as its president of hockey operations last month. But last week, Columbus promoted assistant Brad Larsen to replace Tortorella.
Gallant has a career record of 270-216-55 in 541 NHL games, though he was fired in the third season of his tenure in each of his three previous coaching jobs. In his last stop, Vegas, he went 118-75-20 in 213 games.
The Rangers, who went 27-23-6 in 2020-21, have now missed the playoffs four seasons in a row. But they appear to be just about at the end of the rebuilding phase they famously announced with a letter to their fans in February 2018. Quinn, formerly the coach at Boston University, coached them the last three seasons and guided the Blueshirts to a 96-87-25 record in his time behind the bench.
In his tenure, Quinn oversaw the introduction of young players such as Adam Fox, Alexis Lafreniere, Kaapo Kakko, Ryan Lindgren, Filip Chytil and K’Andre Miller to the NHL. He also helped turn center Mika Zibanejad from a top-six forward into an elite player.
But after James Dolan, the owner of Madison Square Garden, the Rangers and the Knicks, surprisingly fired Davidson and Gorton with three games left in the regular season, it became clear the owner was ready for the team to end the rebuild now. Gallant will be expected to oversee the next phase for the team, which is to become a Stanley Cup contender.
Gallant, who played 11 seasons in the NHL -- nine of those with Detroit -- scored 211 goals and 480 points and racked up 1,674 penalty minutes in 615 career NHL games. He will be expected to mold the Rangers into a tougher team than they have been in the last few years.
In each of his last three full seasons coaching, his teams have made the playoffs. In 2015-16, he guided the Florida Panthers to a 103-point season, good for first in the Atlantic Division. But they lost to the Islanders in six games in the first round of the playoffs, and he was fired after 22 games the next season. In his first season in Vegas, the Golden Knights finished first in the Pacific Division (with 109 points) and made it to the Stanley Cup final, losing to the Washington Capitals. But in 2018-19, Vegas finished third in the Pacific and lost to the San Jose Sharks in the first round of the playoffs, and Gallant was fired the next season, after 49 games.