Am I the only one who finds it rather strange that it is the middle of July and the New York Rangers still have yet to hire staff for the Hartford Wolf Pack? It is almost three months to the day since Keith McCambridge and Joe Mormina were let go from the Wolf Pack and one would think to replace them would not be this hard.
Now those who have followed me know that I think the Rangers should name former NHLer Steve Konowalchuk as the head coach of the Wolf Pack. For those who don’t know who Konowalchuk is, he played close to 800 games in the NHL mainly with the Washington Capitals. After retiring from the NHL, Konowalchuk spent two seasons as an assistant coach for the Colorado Avalanche and then six seasons coaching the Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL) where his teams made the WHL finals twice (winning once).
After Seattle, Konowalchuk spent a season as an assistant coach with the Anaheim Ducks before joining the Rangers as an amateur scout covering the WHL. What the Rangers badly need in Hartford is a teacher, someone who will help turn Hartford into a place where the Rangers can count on for talent. Having watched Konowalchuk take Seattle to the top of the WHL, this is the right guy for the job.
Konowalchuk is someone I got to see a lot of when he was a WHL coach. He is a proven teacher to go along with his NHL background and the Rangers badly need a teacher in Hartford. But Konowalchuk is just the start, if it was up to me then I would add two more assistants to the Hartford staff. The Wolf Pack already have Eric Raymond as their goaltending coach but I would add someone who can coach the forwards and one for the defense.
And at least one of those coaches it would be helpful if they had some European hockey background in them as several of the Ranger prospects are coming over from Europe and having someone who is familiar with the European lifestyle would help these younger players adapt to life in North America.
Skinner Changes Plans
In case you missed it Hunter Skinner who the Rangers selected with the 112th pick in the 2019 NHL Entry draft has changed his mind about attending Western Michigan. Skinner signed to play with the London Knights of the OHL and it is a good move for both the Rangers and Skinner. Skinner who is a righthanded defenseman will get to play for former NHL player and coach Dale Hunter which will help speed up his development.
Dale Hunter whether you like him or not is an excellent junior coach who has a proven track record as a developer of prospects. Skinner will get lots of ice time playing for Hunter. Skinner because he joins the Knights after being drafted can sign with the Rangers and play in Hartford before he is 20 which is good for the Rangers.
It is interesting to note that the Rangers will only have four prospects playing in the CHL (three in the OHL, one in WHL) but eight playing NCAA hockey and nine prospects playing in Europe. Ten years that few playing Canadian junior hockey would have been unheard of.