Saturday, June 15, 2013
Sather sets new tone with Vigneault
By Katie Strang
Alain Vigneault will be the Rangers' next head coach, a source confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com.
Knowing he had competition for the coach he coveted, Rangers general manager Glen Sather moved quickly to secure Alain Vigneault.
With the Dallas Stars also in hot pursuit of the 52-year-old Quebec native, Sather made what must have been a difficult choice to give Vigneault the nod over the Rangers' own Mark Messier.
Vigneault agreed to terms with the Rangers after Friday's meeting with Jim Dolan, prior to informing the Stars he was out of the running.
Though the details are still being finalized with Vigneault still under contract with the Canucks, the hiring is imminent.
So what type of hire is this for Sather?
An important one, for sure, considering the Rangers are at a critical juncture following the dismissal of John Tortorella.
The brash, bombastic Tortorella was given the boot after the team's second-round exit from the playoffs a few weeks ago. Sather didn't explain why, but Tortorella's tough-love coaching style was believed to have worn thin with his players.
The Rangers entered the season with high expectations following a trip to the Eastern Conference finals last spring but suffered from an underwhelming performance both in the regular season and the postseason.
In need of a new message, not to mention a new tone, Sather selected Vigneault as the guy to lead the Rangers. The former Canucks coach -- fired after Vancouver was swept by the San Jose Sharks in the first round of the playoffs -- is known to be a strong communicator who is skilled at identifying key roles for players within his system.
That will likely be a breath of fresh air for a group of veterans that had grown weary of Tortorella's stubborn, demanding style. Vigneault may also have an upper hand in determining the best way to use top offensive talents like Rick Nash, Derek Stepan and struggling center Brad Richards, assuming he is not bought out.
It is unclear whether Vigneault will have the opportunity to choose his own assistants or whether Sather would rather keep current assistant Mike Sullivan to maintain some continuity from the last regime.
What's also unclear is what the fallout may be, if any, from Sather's decision to choose Vigneault over Messier.
Messier, who led the Rangers to a Stanley Cup championship in 1994, also interviewed for the job this week. He is currently an executive with the team, serving as special assistant to Sather.