The New York Rangers wasted no time in making their decision regarding Alain Vigneault. Now they need to find a coach who can lead the Rangers back to the playoffs.
OFFICIAL: #NYR Head Coach Alain Vigneault has been relieved of his coaching duties.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) April 8, 2018
This was no big surprise and I thought the organization did a great job not wasting time in making their decision. The Rangers will have a lot of important decisions to make over the next few months including potential trades pre-draft day, who to draft on draft day, and free agency.
No decision right now is more important as who the new man will be calling the shots behind the bench. The team can go many different ways to find a coach.
Is the best choice a seasoned veteran such as Darryl Sutter, a Ranger legend first-time coach Mark Messier or Brian Leetch, or maybe a coach from the AHL such as Sheldon Keefe?
I believe the Rangers need someone who will get the team to listen to the coaches’ message, be able to have patience with the kids and the many mistakes they will make as the natural growth process endures and will show the respect to the veterans currently on the team. A tough task at hand for general manager Jeff Gorton.
Here is a list of seven potential head coaches for the New York Rangers.
Currently, the head coach of the University of Wisconsin, Tony was the head coach of Team USA at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Has NHL head coaching experience with Colorado and has been an assistant with Colorado, Pittsburgh, and Detroit. Granato was drafted by the Rangers in 1982. He has the experience in working with young and veteran players in the past.
Coach of the AHL Toronto Marlies, the affiliate of the Maple Leafs. The 37-year-old Keefe would be a good fit with the Rangers. He is young and could to relate to the kids on the team as well as the veterans. An excellent match for what the team needs to get the Rangers back on track. He headed the Toronto Marlies to a 51-18-2-2 record in 73 games played. The team came in first place this season with 106 points.
Montgomery is the University of Denver head coach who won the NCAA Championship last season.
Dan won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009. Coached the Buffalo Sabres for just two seasons after his tenure with the Pens, and has not coached in the NHL since. Has the experience in working with big egos and the balancing act that comes along being a head coach.
Since this is a conversation about who could become the next head coach, I have included Sutter but understand I am not in support of this selection. He won two Stanley Cups during a six-year run with the Los Angeles Kings which ended after last season. Has coached parts of 18 NHL seasons with Chicago, San Jose, Calgary and the Kings. The Rangers need a coach who is more understanding of the ever-changing NHL to lead them.
Mark Messier/Brian Leetch
The 1994 New York Rangers Stanley Cup Champions were both mentions as potential candidates when the Rangers hired Vigneault five years ago. Messier was in line to be the head coach and Leetch an assistant. Neither have any real coaching experience, but many believe they would excel behind the bench. The two former players would get the respect earned by champions and by former players who have worn the Rangers sweater. Being a great player thought does not equate to being a great coach, just ask Wayne Gretzky about that.
On Monday Jeff Gorton held a press conference and when he was asked about what coaches he would consider, he answered,
“I would not consider someone who has not coached at any level.”
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) April 9, 2018
That thought would take Messier out of any consideration to lead the team.
Some other mentions could go to Dave Tippett and Patrick Roy but I would hope the team doesn’t go with either.
Stan Fischler’s opinion
The great Stan Fischler added his two cents to the conversation on Sunday. He had a question or suggestion of one former Ranger coach. Would Mike Keenan be in consideration for another shot at a cup? Not the guy I would think to have considering the youth of the team, but if Stan is considering it, maybe it’s not a bad idea.
— Stan Fischler (@StanFischler) April 8, 2018
Jeff Gorton may have the single biggest decision in front of him right now. The team is at a standstill until a head coach is decided.
The Rangers do have some time as the team cannot make any trades or deals until the Stanley Cup playoffs conclude in June. The Rangers will need to have a coach in place as the NHL Draft will not be that far behind once the playoffs are done.