New York Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant was happy with how his first successful season went standing behind the bench for the Blueshirts.
The New York Rangers had to endure another “locker clean out” day which officially ends their 2021-2020 season on Monday afternoon, but this year there is a lot of promise heading into the next season.
Head coach Gerard Gallant met with the media at the team’s training facility. His 52-win season, the second-most in franchise history, was deemed a successful one after his first year leading the Rangers to the playoffs for the first time in five years.
“100 percent,” Gerard Gallant said.
The coach had a lot to address and questions to answer following the team’s 6 game loss to the Tampa bay Lightning. Scratching Kappo Kakko, and playing an injured Ryan Strome in an elimination game as a few of the topics Gallant spoke to in some detail.
Addressing the elephant in the room, Kappo Kakko being a healthy scratch for Game 6 was the question many have looked to hear about. Gallant refused to address the situation after the team was eliminated Saturday night, but on Monday he let the media into what he was thinking when the decision was made.
His reasoning to scratch Kakko was a simple one, he just wanted to win the game.
“Trying to win a hockey game, just dressing my lineup,” Gallant said. “We love the kid. He’s a good player, a good young player.He said he likes Kakko, feels he’s going to be a big part of next season for the Rangers. He’d be disappointed if Kakko and Lafreniere aren’t top 6.”
Kakko was part of the “Kids Line” along with Filip Chytil and Alexis Lafrenière which sparked the team through this postseason. The coach didn’t have any conversations when the decision was made to take him out of the lineup because he didn’t think it was necessary.
Reading the other controversial Game 6 decision to keep injured Ryan Strome in the lineup, Gallant didn’t think he hurt the team, but he also didn’t help them which begs the question, if a player can’t help a team win in an elimination game, then why dress him?
“Yeah, no, he wasn’t that, I mean, he gave us enough, but he couldn’t finish the game. I don’t know. He didn’t hurt us for sure. But he wasn’t Ryan Strome, but he wasn’t the only one,” said Gallant of the Strome injury.
The “he wasn’t the only one” was obvious by the way some of the other players battled through injuries. Defenseman Ryan Lindgren battled through an LBI that saw him miss several games in the first round against the Penguins. Barclay Goodrow missed 11 playoff games with an ankle injury and reinjured that injury in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Other injury announcements will become available when the players speak with the media later in the day.
Chris Drury will be conducted the player exist interviews and not the head coach as Gallant told the media.
Follow Frank Curto on Twitter at @RangerProud