We may not be that much closer to hearing who the next Rangers coach will be, but that doesn’t mean the landscape is the same as it was last week. With Rangers candidates in the running for other jobs, the maneuvering is as much part of the process as interviewing for both the Rangers and their list of coaching options.
Here are our latest updates on a few of the candidates we know about — and remember, there are always ones we haven’t heard anything on.
Nothing’s changed with Laviolette other than who else might be interested. There could be more interest in Laviolette from Columbus than previously thought and the Blue Jackets have extended their coaching decision timeline by a couple weeks. And now, with the Flames’ front-office situation settled, it’s believed Calgary will take a look at Laviolette as well.
If the Rangers decide that the 58-year-old, five-time NHL coach is their guy, they may need to step on it a bit with their decision. But if Laviolette doesn’t get the Columbus job, which is expected to be the first one announced in the coming week or so, then perhaps Chris Drury can be more patient and still feel that Laviolette is available once the Rangers GM has finished a more complete round of interviews.
Two league sources say that the Rangers did their homework on Babcock but ultimately neither side pursued this very far. It’s believed the Rangers weren’t sold on the tainted coach making his return to the league in the New York spotlight and that Babcock didn’t want that kind of scrutiny either, given he hasn’t coached since the Leafs fired him four years ago and multiple players have come forward with stories of how Babcock abused and degraded them during his two decades coaching in the NHL.
There’s talk that Columbus is leaning toward Babcock. But even if he doesn’t end up with the Blue Jackets job, he won’t be taking the Rangers gig.
The Leafs assistant coach has already interviewed with the Rangers, according to a source. He’s still more likely headed to Washington or Anaheim, two places he’s also interviewed, but if Drury decides to go with a younger, less-proven coach, Carbery is obviously in high demand for a reason.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that the Rangers have received permission from the Kraken to interview Leach, who like Carbery is a younger coach with plenty of AHL/NHL assistant experience. It’s not known if Leach and the Rangers have spoken yet.
It’s believed that the Rangers made inquiries on Roy, perhaps even as far back as December when Drury was strongly considering a coaching change as the Rangers stumbled through the first 26 games of the season. Roy, who has the QMJHL champion Quebec Remparts in the Memorial Cup, has heard from other teams with openings of late, but it’s not clear that the Rangers have set their sights on adding Roy to their list of candidates. Drury and Roy were teammates on the 2001 Stanley Cup-winning Avalanche.
Sheldon Keefe/John Hynes
Two coaches that currently have NHL jobs with the Leafs and Predators, but for how much longer? Kyle Dubas hired Keefe in Toronto and now Dubas is gone, likely headed to run the Penguins. Keefe could be headed out too once a new GM comes in, but if that process to replace Dubas drags on toward the draft and all other coaching vacancies are filled, the Leafs may not be in too big a hurry to dump Keefe without a suitable replacement available.
The Predators are believed close to making a decision on whether they keep Hynes, who replaced Laviolette three-plus years ago and hasn’t seen much success. Hynes also didn’t have much success coaching the Devils prior to that, so he might not be the ideal candidate for the Rangers. But he and Drury go back to their Boston University days, so he’s one to keep an eye on should Nashville make a change.
Quenneville requested a meeting with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman once the playoffs are over, but that meeting is not a rubber-stamp approval for Quenneville to get back into the NHL after 20 months on the unofficial banned list for his handling of the Kyle Beach incidents with the Hawks in 2010. The timeline simply does not work for the Rangers, who could be as patient as possible and still be waiting for Quenneville to be reinstated by August or even later.
However, if the Rangers make a hire, the team stumbles out of the gate and Quenneville is approved as winter draws in… That would be an uncomfortable spot for a lot of people.
Even with Dubas presumably headed to run the Penguins, the scenario in which Sullivan ends up coaching the Rangers next season is just about pure fantasy. He has a multiyear extension as one of the highest-paid coaches in the league, he has the ear of Pittsburgh ownership and the Rangers are a big Penguins rival.
(Photo of Chris Drury: Steven Ryan / Getty Images)