The New York Rangers have hired a new head coach for the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, bringing in Kris Knoblauch as the seventh in team history. Knoblauch spent the last two seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers as an assistant, and will be getting his first opportunity in the AHL.
Knoblauch, 40, was a New York Islanders pick back in 1997 but never did make it to the NHL. His playing career ended in 2005 and he quickly got into coaching, first in the WHL with the Prince Albert Raiders. After taking over as head coach of the Kootenay Ice in 2010, he led the team to a WHL championship in his first season behind the bench and quickly was recognized as one of the top up-and-coming coaches in hockey. A stint with the Erie Otters of the OHL came next where Knoblauch had the chance to coach talents like Connor McDavid, Dylan Strome, Alex DeBrincat and many others who would end up in the NHL. Another league championship at the junior level and a silver medal as an assistant with Team Canada’s World Junior team landed him a gig in the NHL with the Flyers.
Known as a player’s coach, those playing under Knoblauch have raved about his communication skills. In an Associated Press piece when he was hired by the Flyers, Erie general manager Dave Brown explained that the coach would create personality profiles to understand how to best reach each player. In the same piece, Strome raved about Knoblauch’s skill in devising special teams structures. The Wolf Pack finished with a 29-36-11 record last season and ranked 19th in powerplay percentage at just 17.9%.