Rangers eliminate a few wild cards in narrowing coach searchNews 

Rangers eliminate a few wild cards in narrowing coach search


Rangers eliminate a few wild cards in narrowing coach search

The search for Alain Vigneault’s successor will take the Rangers “wherever we can find the best possible coach,” general manager Jeff Gorton said Monday, ruling out only those without any experience behind the bench.

“We’ll look anywhere,” Gorton said. “I think ‘fresh’ is a good word. We’re looking for somebody that can help us get back to an identity we want to get to. We’re looking to go through this process and hear some ideas from some people about how we can move forward with the makeup of our team.”

Gorton, who revealed that he reached the decision last week to dismiss Vigneault after the coach’s fifth season behind the New York bench, said that the only disqualifier would be lack of substantive coaching experience of any kind. So, no to Mark Messier and Marty St. Louis.

But the door is open to candidates with AHL experience (e.g., Sheldon Keefe of the Marlies, Jay Leach of Providence, Benoit Groulx of Syracuse); NHL experience (Bill Peters, Dan Bylsma, Dave Tippett, Darryl Sutter, plus those currently employed who may be looking for work following the playoffs); and collegiate backgrounds (Jim Montgomery of Denver; Rick Bennett of Union; Tony Granato of Wisconsin).


The GM divulged no details about the decision to relieve Vigneault, who took the Blueshirts to the playoffs in each of his first four years on the job that included one trip to the Cup final, another to the conference finals and a Presidents’ Trophy. He did say, though, that Vigneault’s postgame soliloquy on Saturday was no factor in the verdict.

“A.V. has been a terrific coach in the league, he has been a terrific coach for the Rangers and he will continue to be successful,” said Gorton. “But after five years we think it’s time for a change, time for the players to have a new voice and time for the organization to have a new coach.”

But the GM did make it clear he believes Vigneault’s laissez-faire approach is not best suited for a team that will be as young as the 2018-19 Rangers.

“I think A.V. had a certain way and after a certain amount of games he had a plan that worked for him,” Gorton said. “But I think that with the youth on our team going forward, we’re going to have a coach that’s hands-on, for sure.”

This will be the first coaching hire ever for Gorton, who succeeded Glen Sather as GM on July 1, 2015. Gorton will lead the search and make the call, but Sather will certainly have significant input throughout the process that is in its embryonic stage.

“We’ll talk to more people, but I’d think we’d interview between five and 10 candidates,” said Gorton, who’d like to have a coach in place by the July 1 opening of the free-agent market but did not establish a timetable by which to complete the search. “We’ve already heard from some people.”


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