New York Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton addressed the media this morning, confirming the news that the team has relieved head coach Alain Vigneault of his coaching duties and then announced that associate coach Scott Arniel and assistant coach Darryl Williams have also been relieved of their duties. Assistant coach Lindy Ruff will remain with the club, at least until both Gorton and Sather have a chance to discuss his future with the club.
When Gorton was asked point blank to explain these personnel decisions he replied, “I think AV (Vigneault) has been a tremendous coach in the league and a really good coach for the Rangers… I just think that after five years it’s time for change and that the players need a new voice. As we move forward, that’s the decision that we made.”
Gorton was then asked about possible replacements for Vigneault, Arniel and Williams and admitted that the team does have at least a few individuals in mind. “Yeah we do have names that we want to reach out to, but we’re still compiling those names. But yes, the answer is yes.”
He did go on to mention that he wouldn’t want to “rule anyone out”, but that the team is not considering hiring anyone without head coaching experience. This, of course, puts to rest the rumor that the Rangers might bring in legendary player Mark Messier to work the bench next season. While Messier does have some experience as a former special assistant to president and then GM of the Rangers Glen Sather, he does not have any coaching experience. So… for better or worse, no Mess behind the bench at MSG.
Incredibly, Vigneault was the first and only coach fired during the 2017-18 regular season, but he’s not expected to be the last coach to reach this fate. There’s constant rumors and speculation surrounding the Edmonton Oilers organization about the fate of head coach Todd MacLellan, ditto for the Carolina Hurricanes and Bill Peters. Expect Gorton and Sather to wait until later this offseason to make an announcement on the team’s next head coach.
As for Vigneault, the 56 year old native of Quebec City, Quebec leaves the Rangers franchise as the team’s third all-time most winningest coach with a 226-147-47 record. Only legends Lester Patrick and Emile Francis have more wins behind the Rangers bench. Overall, Vigneault has a stellar 648-435-98 record split between the Rangers, Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks.
During his five years in The Big Apple, Vigneault guided the Rangers to a Stanley Cup Final in 2014 and a President’s Trophy in 2015, but just as was the case in Vancouver, Vigneault was never able to deliver a Stanley Cup championship in New York.
For the full press conference, click the link below: