Thanks to a terrible start, New York Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault is on the hot seat. Who would replace him if he was removed?
Alain Vigneault has been at the helm of the New York Rangers for five years. He has taken them to a Stanley Cup Final and two Eastern Conference Finals and has won six playoff series in the past four years. Last season, Vigneault signed a two-year extension that runs through the 2019-20 season. Does this guarantee his job is secure?
No, it doesn’t. In this town, it takes more than just being close to keep your job. Win now is the moto in New York City. So it’s not surprising that the New York Post‘s Larry Brooks says there has been industry chatter that Tuesday night against the Las Vegas Golden Knights could be Vigneault’s last game.
I disagree with that logic, as it puts Vigneault in a no-win spot no matter the outcome. If he loses the game, the Knights were the better team anyway and if he wins, the Knights were due for a loss. Either way, Vigneault looks weak. He deserves better than that.
Be that as it may be, when the time comes to find his replacement, the Rangers need to get it right. I have a few people in mind who might be able to give this team the kick in the ass it needs.
Coached the Pittsburgh Penguins to the 2009 Stanley Cup Championship only four months after being hired. Was named head coach of the 2014 USA Olympic Hockey team that played in Sochi, Russia. Would be a strong leader for the Rangers that has experience in the Metro Divison and the ability to bring the team to a Stanley Cup Finals victory. He’s dealt with many different personalities and stars on the same team with great success.
Sutter won two Stanley Cups as the coach of the Los Angeles Kings, in 2012 and again in 2014, the latter coming against the Rangers. He’s coached over 1,200 games, making stops in Chicago, San Jose, Calgary and LA. Sutter is known to be a hard-nosed coach who insists on things being done his way. This could be a huge help with the Rangers preparation to start hockey games.
Five years ago, before the Rangers settled on hiring Vigneault, Messier was one of the names to pop up in rumors as a potential hire. He may not have coaching experience, but that might not stop the Rangers from hiring him.
He was an excellent leader as an active player, commands respect and would be able to get his point across in the locker room.
These are just three of the many names the team is surely considering. I can tell you that replacing Vigneault with current assistant coach Lindy Ruff makes no sense. The team needs a different direction and different voice. Ruff has only been with the team a few months, but I don’t believe he would be the change the Rangers need.
If the Rangers are going to part ways with Vigneault, they need to do it soon. The team is going to need time to get used to a new coach and his style of play. They’ve left enough points on the ice already. That can’t continue in November—which arrives Wednesday.