In what could wind up being a bit of a coaching switcheroo, former Vancouver Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault has been hired as the new bench boss of the New York Rangers and former Rangers head coach has been interviewed about the vacant job in Vancouver’s organization.
Both the New York Daily News and Sportsnet are reporting that Vigneault has agreed to become the coach of the Rangers as of Saturday afternoon. On Friday night, he withdrew his name from consideration with the Dallas Stars’ vacancy. Vigneault was in New York on Friday and met with Rangers owner James Dolan.
According to reports, former Ranger Mark Messier was also considered.
The Tortorella discussion, meanwhile, is said to be only in the preliminary stages. The former New York coach has also been linked to the Dallas vacancy, while former Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff had also been linked to the now-filled post with the Rangers. In other words, expect some movement on these fronts over the next while – especially with Dallas Eakins officially off the market.
In Vigneault, the Rangers are getting one of the most successful coaches in Canucks history. He is the team’s record-holder for wins and snagged the Jack Adams Award in the 2006-2007 season. His Canucks won back-to-back Presidents’ Trophies in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 and reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011.
But after Vancouver was swept in the first round by the San Jose Sharks in the 2013 playoffs, the goodwill and success Vigneault built in Vancouver seemed to evaporate. Canucks fans called for his head and management delivered, firing the the winningest coach in franchise history (313-170-57) in May.
Tortorella was likewise canned in May. He was unable to replicate the same success he enjoyed in Tampa Bay, even though his Rangers made the playoffs four out of the five years he was behind the bench. Unfortunately, they only made it past the conference semifinals once.
Tortorella and Vigneault could not be more opposite in terms of coaching style and one has to imagine the Vancouver media would have a field day with Torts if he wound up coaching the Canucks. Whether or not Vigneault is Broadway-ready remains to be seen, but his quieter style may resonate. His sense of humour, well-known to us Vancouverites, should go over well.
Another issue is in what the coaches have in store. Vigneault should bump up the Rangers’ offensive game and should have the defencemen activating, while Tortorella prefers a defensive angle and, as has been well-documented, creates shot-blockers out of even the most reluctant players. Could that play in Vancouver? Hard to say.
At this point, speculation is all there is on the Tortorella front. But it sure would make for an interesting turn of events.