Almost a month to the day since they fired David Quinn, the Rangers appear on the verge of making their next Head Coach official, with reports today that point to the expected hiring of Gerard Gallant as the 36th Head Coach in franchise history.
The 57 year old native of Prince Edward Island in Canada, played 615 regular season games over 11 seasons with the Red Wings and Lightning, before starting his coaching career with the former IHL's Fort Wayne Komets back in 1998.
He made his NHL debut as an assistant three seasons later in 2001, when he joined the Columbus Blue Jackets as an assistant under Dave King, and then under GM Doug MacLean who assumed the coaching role as well following the firing of King on January 7th, 2003. The following season, MacLean stepped aside mid-season and handed the reigns over to Gallant who finished out the year with a 16-25-4 record in his 45 games coached.
With the 2004-05 season lost to the league-wide lockout, Gallant returned for his first training camp as a Head Coach and guided the Blue Jackets to a then team record high of 74 points, but the now 5-year old franchise once again failed to qualify for the playoffs.
On November 13th of 2007, GM Doug MacLean fired Gallant just 15 games into his third season, having started the season 5-9-1. The Jackets would not make the playoffs again, and the team finally parted ways with Doug MacLean after six losing seasons.
Assistant coaching stints with the Islanders - 2 years under Ted Nolan - and the Canadiesn - 2 years under Michel Therien, bookended a three year stint in the QMJHL, where Gallant won two QMJHL championships, and a Memorial Cup.
Then in the 2014-15 season, Dave Tallon pegged him to return to the head coaching ranks with the Florida Panthers, where he guided the Panthers to a 91 point season, a nine-win, 25 point improvement over the previous seaosn. In his second year with the club, he lead the team to their best regular season result in franchise history, where they set marks for wins - 47, and points - 103. Both remain as franchise records.
In his first playoff series as a head coach, Gallant and the Panthers lost the series 4-2 to the New York Islanders, and Gallant lasted just 22 more games with the franchise, getting fired ignominiously in his third season following shake-ups in the front office.
He wasn't out of work for long though, with GM George McPhee pegging him to lead the expansion Vegas Golden Knights in their inaugural season in the NHL. Remarkably his team went 51-24-7 in the regular seaosn, and followed that up with a 12-3 record in the post season, until they were defeated 4-1 by the Washington Capitals in the Cup Final.
The team dropped off a little in year two, winning 43 games and losing 4-3 in the first round of the playoffs to San Jose. With a 24-19-6 record to start the 2019-20 season, Gallant was surprisingly let go, despite having his team in a playoff position, a decision that had many wondering why - the justification, something didn't feel quite right.
After sitting out this past year, Gallant appeared to be in the mix for several open posiitons, and with the Rangers moving on from David Quinn, Chris Drury hastily arranged an airport meeting with Gallant before he headed off to Latvia to coach the Canada Men's team in the World Championship.
Reports at the time said Drury came away impressed, and suggestions from some quarters placed him as the favorite to earn the role for this coming season.
With that came today's report from Larry Brooks of the New York Post, which states a hiring is imminent and so the Rangers will go into July's Waiver Draft, and Entry Draft with their Head Coach already decided upon.