Training Camp is around three weeks away, and we're already seeing the first players gather at the team's practice facility in Greenburgh. The coaches too are making their way into the city as they begin preparation for their inaugural training camp as a group.
The New York Post's Larry Brooks published a series of three articles (1, 2 and 3) over the weekend, all focused around conversations he had with Head Coach Gerard Gallant. The articles began to shed some more light on what the new coach might be like, and what motivate him.
Perhaps the most obvious was how Gallant might feel about the off-season adjustments for the team, and whether he thought the team was better because of them. Unsurprisinglly, he had the following to say:
“Those guys are important players. I love hard-working competitive teams, and with Reaves and whoever else is on your team, we upgraded a part that we thought was a little bit weaker last year,” - Gerard Gallant
He mentioned Ryan Reaves at least twice to Brooks, and it's clear that he's particularly happy to have him on the team, though he did also make mention of Barclay Goodrow, and playing against him while he was coach of the Golden Knights.
When Brooks pushed him a bit on Reaves with respect to his age and relevance, the coach insisted that he did plenty more than just fight, and that he'd served him well when they were together in Las Vegas. Clearly Reaves earned his trust in the past, and he remains loyal to him.
That theme of loyalty came up again when talking about the hiring of Jim Midgley as the third assistant , with Gallant noting that Midgley - a fellow former coach out of the QMJHL - was a "loyal" guy.
If you were expecting a guy who had a detailed plan of action for the upcoming season, it appeared to be very much a work in progress. Despite being hired back in May, he freely admitted that he had not talked to anyone - outside of Adam Fox at an event - and had seemingly yet to have had much interaction with the new assistant coaching crew.
There wasn't "a whole lot of big changes" that needed to be done, and the coaching roles for the assistants will be sorted out over the "next week".
When you read what he had to say, it felt a bit like a throwback to the thinking of Glen Sather when he took over from Bryan Trottier.
"I’m more than fair with our players, I know our players are going to come into training camp in great shape" - Gerard Gallant Aug 28, 2021
All I'm trying to do is be fair and have them concentrate on the small details" - Glen Sather Feb 8, 2003
Gallant seems to give players the beneift of the doubt, trusting in them to be in shape, to be able to benefit from "2nd or 3rd chances", and even describing himself as a "fair and reasonable person".
There's an underlying current of the "players know what they need to do" which echoes the time of Glen Sather, and while there is the obligatory comments about "playing the right way", the overall impression is a coach who doesn't focus on details, preferring to bring support to his players as they succeed as a team.
It's a clear departure from David Quinn's focus on holding people accountable, something he apparently did to a fault with some of the veterans who tuned him out. Now those same veterans will likely get more room to provide their feedback into the process.
This won't be one of those camps where players are put through excessive drills, three-mile runs or endless hours in the video room. This will be a players camp, where Gallant will try and build a competitive team by giving players the room.
Whether he'll have more success than Glen Sather had, remains to be seen, though it has worked in short stints elsewhere. Whether the players will become too comfortable is probably a conversation for beyond this season, but we now have our first glimpses of what Gallant is going to be like with the Rangers.