One week after the firestorm that ended up with the removal of president John Davidson and general manager (GM) Jeff Gorton from their jobs, the New York Rangers fired head coach David Quinn on Wednesday. Gerard Gallant is the first coach interviewed by new GM Chris Drury. Longtime Rangers player Brian Leetch and staff resigned a day after Quinn’s firing. Ryan Lindgren re-signed with a three-year, $9 million deal.
Quinn Promptly Gassed
New president and GM Drury didn’t waste much time getting rid of Quinn. Drury made the move less than one week after taking on his new positions with the Rangers. He was promoted from associate GM after Davidson and Gorton were let go. It’s not certain why the three of them weren’t all fired at the same time. There was speculation that Quinn’s days were numbered and there are a lot of qualified, experienced, unemployed coaches out there these days. However, Drury, it seems, wanted to wait until after Monday’s exit meetings with players and staff. Perhaps he needed to gauge players’ feelings towards Quinn and apparently that didn’t go well.
Drury has a past and ties with Quinn. They both played at Boston University and Drury was a major voice in helping Quinn get hired by the organization in the first place. According to Larry Brooks, Drury has a mandate to take what he’s inherited (which is a plethora of riches) into a team that’s a more finished product and will make the playoffs and contend for a Stanley Cup sooner rather than later (‘The determining factor in Chris Drury’s massive David Quinn decision,’ NY Post – 05/09/21).
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Drury made this statement after firing Quinn, “I would like to thank David Quinn, David Oliver, Jacques Martin, and Greg Brown for all of their efforts and dedication to the Rangers, I wish each of them the best in their future endeavors.” He continued, “We will begin our search for a new head coach immediately.” All of the assistant coaches were fired except goalie coach Benoit Allaire.
Rangers Interview Gallant
On Sunday Team USA and Team Canada will share a charter plane to Riga, Latvia, for the 2021 IIHF World Championship tournament. The plane will depart from New York’s JFK airport, which is convenient since according to Larry Brooks, Drury and the Rangers interviewed Team Canada head coach Gallant, Friday (‘Rangers sneak Gerard Gallant interview in before he heads to World Championships,’ NY Post – 05/09/21).
The two of them could have shared a row on the charter since Drury is GM of Team USA. However, he isn’t traveling to Riga in light of his new role with the Rangers. Brooks and his sources say Gallant is at the top of the Rangers’ list for a new head coach and that the interview was constructive and productive. Some other notable names the Rangers might be looking at are Mike Babcock, Rick Tocchet, Bruce Boudreau and former Rangers’ head coach John Tortorella. Also let’s not forget Chris Knoblauch, the Hartford Wolf Pack head coach who was great in relief of Quinn when the coaching staff was sequestered in COVID protocol.
A day after Quinn was fired, Rangers legend Leetch resigned from his job as advisor to hockey operations. Leetch whose No. 2 hangs in the MSG rafters, was asked to stay on according to Mollie Walker but obviously felt it was time to step away (‘Brian Leetch resigns from job as Rangers adviser,’ NY Post – 5/13/21).
With three huge changes in the organization, perhaps the former Rangers captain, who played 17 seasons in Manhattan, felt it was just too much for him to proceed in his duties. Leetch was the Blueshirts’ hockey operations advisor since 2017. Mike Grier, a former teammate of Drury in both college and the NHL, will take over Leetch’s job effective immediately. Grier played over 1,000 NHL games and last was an assistant coach for the New Jersey Devils.
Lindgren Inks New Deal
Lindgren had a breakthrough season for the Rangers. Until last season he hadn’t produced much and might have been destined to be a career minor-leaguer. He came over in the Rick Nash trade in 2018, and when called up to the Rangers’ roster, he didn’t produce. During the offseason, he worked on his skating and toned up his body. That move paid off dividends and he’s now part of the Rangers’ top defensive pair with Adam Fox who had the second-most points for NHL defensemen in 2020-21.
Lindgren and Fox have paired well together. Lindgren provides the stay-at-home defensive skills that allow Fox to rush the puck and shine offensively. With signing Lindgren, the Rangers solidify this top pair on their back end at least through the end of next season when Fox’s entry-level contract runs out. However, there’s not much question the team will re-sign Fox who’s a restricted free agent and the two former US National Team Development Program teammates should be mainstays at MSG for years to come.
Scott Blair is an author and journalist from Los Angeles, Ca by way of Detroit, Mi. Scott’s life has been shaped by uniquely diverse experiences in both of those places he calls home. He is now traveling the world learning and growing as a human and a writer. He was a professional hockey player and then turned to the arts becoming an actor for about 15 years. His passions turned to poetry, prose, politics, and journalism when he got tired of the Hollywood machine and what it represents.