After 4 full seasons with the Rangers, John Tortorella’s Broadway career came to an abrupt end on May 29th. After being eliminated in the second round at the hands of the Boston Bruins, general manager Glen Sather immediately decided it was time for Tortorella to go. This started a swirl of events within the Rangers organization. Many rumors were floating around saying that Mark Messier and even Wayne Gretzky, both former Rangers, were interested in the vacant position.
Well, vacant no more. Sather has found his man, and that man is Alain Vigneault. After 6 full seasons and one shortened season with the Vancouver Canucks, Vigneault was given the axe after this year’s first round exit against San Jose.
The former Vancouver coach comes into New York with a great coaching record; 422-288-61. He has spent 2 years as a player, and 24 years coaching the game of hockey. In his tenure with Vancouver, he led the team to 4 division titles, and 2 President’s Trophy wins. He was also the winner of the Jack Adams Award in 2007, and a finalist in 2011.
What Does He Bring?
Vigneault is seen as a very different, if not complete opposite coach than Tortorella, who was rude to the media, unprofessional, and whose Rangers teams played a strict, defense-first system. Vigneault’s teams played a more up-tempo offensive system, and allowed his players to be creative and more attack-oriented. It is going to be an interesting yet refreshing change in New York to see how the Rangers play differs from recent years.
Although Vigneault has a great record, that quickly diminishes come postseason time. Vancouver was 1-10 in it’s last 11 playoff games under the bench boss, dating back to Game 5 of the 2011 Cup Final against the Bruins.
Last spring, the No.1 seeded Canucks were beaten by the eventual champion Los Angeles Kings in 5 games. Back in 2011 against the Bruins in the Final, Vancouver lost Games 6 and 7 after leading the series 2-0 and 3-2.
However most times the failures of a team can be pinned on the players, and not the coach. Also it has to be said that Vancouver and New York are two totally different teams with different identities. It will surely be interesting to see how fast Vigneault adapts to the different atmosphere.
Shortly after Tortorella was let go by the Rangers, media outlets and reporters kept saying that Messier was deeply interested in the coaching position. He had been asked by Sather on one or two occasions if he would coach the Rangers. However Messier has no coaching experience, even as an assistant at the pro level. His hiring sure would have been a risk that maybe Sather wasn’t willing to take.
But Sather and Messier go way back almost 35 years, when Messier was a teenager joining Edmonton in the late 70’s under Oilers then GM/Coach, Sather. Mark is currently serving as a special assistant to the Rangers GM, and may take over the position since Sather is seeking to soon step down.
So, the coaching search is now completed, and Vigneault has been hired as the bench boss to run the Rangers. However a formal announcement of the hiring has not yet been made because of the ongoing Stanley Cup Final between the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins.
We should expect an announcement either today due to the off day or after the Finals conclude and the trophy is handed out. The league usually doesn’t like major news being announced during the Finals series.
We know what Vigneault brings to the table, he is an excellent coach who plays a system that fits the Rangers well. Will he be able to successfully run that system with the Blueshirts? We shall soon see.