USA Today – The Captain and franchise icon will not be the next coach of the New York Rangers. No, it won’t be Mark Messier. The Rangers have decided to go with the proven over the unknown and to hire former Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault to succeed the fired John Tortorella. Vigneault, who hammered out the details in principle on a contract with Rangers owner James Dolan Friday and Saturday, could be announced as the new coach Sunday. The Rangers have not made an official comment about the hiring. Vigneault’s teams won their division title in six of his seven seasons, and two Presidents’ trophies, including the one in which the Canucks edged the Rangers on the final day of the 2011-12 season. But Vancouver was 1-10 in its last 11 playoff games under Vigneault, since Game 5 of the 2011 Cup Final against the Bruins.
This shouldn’t come as a suprise to anyone. Vigneault’s name was at the top of the expected-hire list for the Blueshirts all along. I didn’t think hiring Messier would’ve been a terrible idea, but bringing in an experienced coach who’s had success taking the leash off his skilled players seems like a perfect fit. Are the Rangers as talented as people think though? We’ll find out. Did AV just benefit from having the Sedin girls, or will he help Richards (who I’m guessing stays) bounce back? Derick Brassard seems primed for a breakout season – can Vigneault make it happen? And most importantly, can he lead this squad to a Cup or are we gonna riot in Midtown?
It’s always strange to me when, in all sports, every off-season seems to turn into a coaching carousel where teams swap post-season underachievers instead of trying something new. For all of Vigneault’s regular season success, he managed to lead Vancouver past the second round only once. Granted, Roberto Luongo had a ton to do with that, but even in their deepest run they choked away a 2-0 and 3-2 lead in the Finals. So, while the Blueshirts are looking to shake the “overrated” tag, their new coach has his own monkey he’s looking to shake. Whether or not they need each other to do it remains to be seen – but for now, the Rangers got their man.