It took what seemed to be forever to put a coaching staff in place for the Hartford Wolfpack but it was well worth the wait. The hiring of Kris Knoblauch as head coach and Gord Murphy as associate head coach gives the Wolfpack in my book the best combo to develop the Ranger prospects that they have had in years.
Knoblach has coached at the junior level taking two different teams to their league championship as well as being an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Flyers. He is a teacher who has a proven track record as someone who develops NHL players something that has been lacking in Hartford.
But the biggest key is that Knoblach wins and after years of the Wolfpack not making the playoffs will be a welcome change. Hartford has missed making the AHL playoffs for four straight seasons and six of the last seven. It won’t happen overnight but expect Hartford to start winning again.
Gord Murphy played 13 years in the NHL as a defenseman and has been an assistant coach in the NHL since 2002. He is the right guy to help develop the young defensive prospects that the Rangers have. Murphy worked with Knoblach the last couple of years with the Flyers so they know each other and have a solid relationship.
Add in Pat Boller who serves as the assistant general manager for the Wolfpack, Eric Raymond the goaltending coach (and Benoit Allair disciple), and Mark Cesari and Kevin Gately who serve as the strength and conditioning coaches and you have possibly the best staff Hartford has ever had.
This will also be the group that will be leading the prospects when they take part in the 2019 Traverse City Prospect Tournament in September.
Speaking of the annual prospect tournament, one thing that will need to happen will be the prospect Rangers start winning at the tournament. Yes, the main goal remains to start building chemistry among the prospects and to see how well they have done with their offseason work.
But doing better than finishing at the bottom of the tournament is a confidence builder, it helps give the prospects a positive sign that the David Quinn system works. For the majority of the prospects, they won’t see exhibition games with the Rangers and are returned to their junior teams or sent to the Hartford camp.
So winning sends a great message to these prospects.
Not to mention to the Ranger fans as well.