- Katie Strang, ESPN.com
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The New York Rangers have zeroed in on Alain Vigneault as their next coach, pending a contract being worked out, a league source told ESPNNewYork.com on Friday night.
Vigneault was in New York on Friday, a source confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com, and was believed to be meeting with team owner James Dolan.
A team spokesperson and a spokesperson for Dolan declined to comment on whether there was a meeting when reached via email Friday night.
Vigneault met with the Rangers during the team's organizational meetings earlier this week in La Quinta, Calif., and made a strong case to succeed the recently dismissed John Tortorella.
Vigneault also was a top candidate for the vacant coaching job with the Dallas Stars, multiple sources told ESPNNewYork.com. However, a source told ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun that Vigneault withdrew his name from consideration for that position Friday night.
Mark Messier was also a top candidate for the Rangers' job, although Vigneault now has emerged as the front-runner.
Messier, on hand to present his annual leadership award at the Stanley Cup finals in Chicago on Friday, confirmed he interviewed for the position earlier this week.
"We had our scouts meetings and I've had conversations with Glen [Sather, general manager], and like anybody that would be interested in coaching, obviously the Rangers would be a dream come true for a lot of coaches," Messier said, according to NHL.com. "I told Glen I would have interest, so we've had discussions, and that's where it stands right now.
"Glen has interviewed many candidates, and I'm one of those guys. Other than that, I'm not going to speculate on what-ifs and things like that; it's just too premature."
Messier serves as a special assistant under Sather but has no coaching experience.
Only Messier and Vigneault have had formal interviews with the Rangers. Although the team has received permission to speak with both Lindy Ruff and Los Angeles Kings assistant John Stevens, no interviews with either have been scheduled.
Sather previously said he'd like to have a coach in place by June 30.
Information from ESPNNewYork.com contributor Mike Mazzeo and ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun was used in this report.
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