We all know it by now head coach David Quinn had lost the dressing room in New York City. During the 2021 shortened season, it became clear that there was a disconnect between Quinn and the Rangers’ marquee players and now another superstar believes the problem is solved thanks to the hire of Gerard Gallant.
Jaromir Jagr knows what he’s talking about: after all, he thrived in Florida in his mid-40s under the Rangers’ new head coach and believes the star issue fans noticed in the latest season will get solved under Gallant.
“He is tough but friendly and he is honest with the players,” Jagr told The New York Post on Tuesday from his home in the Czech Republic. “In my opinion, with the players having so much power, that is the way a coach has to be. You can’t threaten to send players down or take away their ice time. That does not work.
“You have to be honest with the top guys and create trust with them. You have to be tough but you have to create the [environment] so players want to play for you and will do extra. That’s the way I see it. And that’s the way he is, not only with the top guys but with everyone, no matter who you are.”
According to Jagr, Gallant is the right man for the job because of his past in the league. He will get what the players are facing during the season:
“He was a very good player, he was a star in the NHL, playing with a star like Stevie Yzerman in Detroit. So he knows what the stars need. Nobody can really tell you that. It’s something you have to feel. It’s something you have to know. You need the personal experience. That’s a big advantage.”
Jagr makes a lot of sense and you have to wonder if that’s what pushed Gallant over the edge as Drury looked for his new coach. Gallant had an 11-year career in the NHL as a power winger, spending nine seasons with the Red Wings before ending his run in Tampa Bay. He posted 211 goals and 480 points in 615 games, scoring between 34 and 39 goals four straight seasons beginning with 1986-87.
Star players like Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad are in good hands.
“He knows what the stars need, but if they are not playing well, it doesn’t matter who they are, they won’t get the normal ice time,” Jagr said. “One of the other things I really like about the way he coaches is that he doesn’t change lines that often. He doesn’t mix up things just to do something.”
It’s great to hear Jagr have encouraging words on the Rangers, with whom he posted one of the greatest seasons in franchise history with his club-record 54-goal, 123-point 2005-06 campaign.
Let’s hope star players like Panarin and Zibanejad feel the same way too.