Rangers not waiting on Joel Quenneville — but Penguins dysfunction raises Mike Sullivan questions

The Rangers coaching search is in a holding pattern but we can safely tell you that this is not related to the meeting between Joel Quenneville and Gary Bettman that will take place at some point after the Cup final.

Our understanding is that there is no expectation within the industry that Quenneville — under indefinite suspension since late October 2021 for his role in the Kyle Beach sexual assault saga — would be reinstated following his sit-down with the commissioner in a timely enough manner to become a candidate for any open job in this current search cycle.

So, no, that’s not it.

Perhaps this is a reflection of the fact that Chris Drury has not been blown away in the interviews he has conducted with previously identified candidates Peter Laviolette, Mike Babcock, Spencer Carbery and, presumably, Kris Knoblauch. It is unknown whether Drury has yet spoken with Jay Leach or if he will reach out to one-time teammate Patrick Roy, who is leading his QMJHL Ramparts into the Memorial Cup.

It is possible that the methodical Blueshirts president is waiting to see how the situation plays out in Toronto with Sheldon Keefe, who would certainly merit an interview if he is not retained by the incoming GM.

By the way, does anyone else find it somewhat odd that the Leafs have granted clubs permission to talk to its assistant coach Carbery, supposedly one of the hot rising stars on the market, when they might be in their own search for a head coach? Only me?

Be that as it may, Drury may also be waiting to see how the Pittsburgh situation resolves itself, and if — stop me if you have heard this before — Mike Sullivan becomes available.

Joel Quenneville is not expected to be reinstated for the current NHL coaching cycle.
NHLI via Getty Images

This should have been put to bed a week ago and maybe it was when Sullivan told The Post’s Mollie Walker, “No, I am under contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins, here for the long haul,” in response to speculation that he might leave the organization if Kyle Dubas became the new GM and would bring Keefe with him from Toronto.

This was May 17 and that should have been the end of it. Again, maybe it was. Maybe there was never even anything to it.

But I am not so sure after reading Rob Rossi’s piece in The Athletic published on Wednesday, in which he expertly detailed the malfunction within the organization’s hierarchy over the last 12 months.

Most interesting to me as applies to the Rangers is Rossi’s reporting of how since-fired GM Ron Hextall had issues with how close Sullivan had become to the Fenway Sports Group ownership and how much influence the coach had in personnel matters generally left to the executives. This became a recurring theme.

Mike Sullivan previously told The Post he was with the Penguins for the "long haul."
Mike Sullivan previously told The Post he was with the Penguins for the “long haul.”
NHLI via Getty Images

So let’s play this out. As previously reported and independently verified by The Post, Dubas ultimately demanded more power within the organization and a greater measure of autonomy regarding personnel decisions before the Leafs cut the cord.

The question is whether Fenway Sports Group would give that measure of autonomy to Dubas, who has already been in Pittsburgh to meet with ownership.

An equally pertinent question would be if Dubas would feel comfortable inheriting a coach with a direct pipeline to ownership and whose responsibilities have been increased since the dismissal of Hextall as GM and Brian Burke as president of hockey operations.

And this: if Sullivan’s influence diminishes upon a hypothetical Dubas hiring, would the two-time Cup-winning coach even want to be behind the Penguins bench, “for the long haul?”

Rangers president and general manager Chris Drury.
Rangers president and general manager Chris Drury.
Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post

Would Pittsburgh be big enough for both Dubas and Sullivan and if not, who becomes ownership’s favorite son?

The Rangers’ search is in a holding pattern.

I am just musing that the unfolding situation in Pittsburgh is a contributing factor.

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