New Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant is the exact opposite of what David Quinn was when he came to New York three seasons ago.
Gallant has the NHL experience leading a club, with his best being the inaugural Vegas Golden Knights team during the 2017-18 campaign as they made it to the Stanley Cup Finals. Quinn built a powerhouse at Boston University, but didn’t have the NHL experience.
So, as Gallant sat for questions with the media on Tuesday to discuss what he’s looking for with his new squad, there isn’t any acclimation period needed. No transition needed. Gallant knows what he wants from his Rangers.
“When I was in Vegas — and I hate talking about the past — we went to training camp with a plan to put our systems in place and we expect everybody to play a 200-foot game,” he told reporters via Zoom. “Everybody good defensively, everybody good offensively, everybody to have a role on the hockey team. That’s important to me.
“We try to make every player important to our hockey team.”
Speed and physicality are the two main points Gallant made with the Golden Knights, an expansion team made up of players that didn’t have an ounce of chemistry walking into training camp. Things obviously worked out well.
The Rangers, though, have a solid young core with some veterans who already have leadership in the locker room. So Gallant is already steps ahead of what he had in Vegas.
“I think they got a real good lineup,” he said. “Obviously, when you look at their team, you see the young players, the veteran talent they got. They’re just a team ready to take another step. I’m just going from the teams I’ve coached in the past — the Florida Panthers, the Vegas Golden Knights and most recent history with it. You put your systems in place, you get the team ready to play every night.”
Gallant didn’t coach in the NHL this season, after the Golden Knights changed leadership after the 2019-20 season. He’s used to organizations wanting a shift at head coach, as he’s bounced around from the Panthers, Columbus Blue Jackets and the Golden Knights – all three-year stints.
“Once I get fired, I try to move on as quick as possible. I think that helps a coach. I’m not going to live in the past,” he said.
Obviously, Gallant would love for a longer stint with New York, a team that he said was “intimidating” to play as a player and coach when he had to travel to Madison Square Garden.
But, while Gallant and his eventual new coaching staff goes over what this roster is truly capable of next season, he already knows what the identity of his group will be.
“I want it to be the hardest working team in the league,” he said. “I want to compete hard, to battle hard, to make teams say, ‘You know what? That team works hard every night.'”