We're only a few hours removed from the announcement that John Tortorella has been relieved of his duties as head coach of the New York Rangers. And despite everyone still trying to fully grasp what has happened in the last 24 hours (including me), I'm going to - possibly prematurely - take our first look at potential candidates to replace Tortorella. Again, we're only a few hours removed from the announcement so we are very likely not anywhere close to finding out who the new guy is. So this is very preliminary guess-work. But what do we have to lose? Here are the guys who, in my mind, are in some capacity a candidate for the position or at the very least will be linked to us.
Lindy Ruff - I'll start with the most obvious name just to get it out of the way. Ruff was let go by the Sabres on February 20th and was seemingly linked to the Rangers almost immediately. In 15 seasons that Ruff was in charge, the Sabres made it to the Eastern Conference Finals four times and the Stanley Cup Finals once, where they lost to the Dallas Stars. He won the Jack Adams award for the
2005-2006 2006-2007 season and has a long-standing reputation as a quality coach. There's also the Rangers connection. I won't go as far as to say that Glen Sather invokes nepotism, but it's pretty clear that he values relationships and history. Glen Sather pretty much has a relationship with anybody who is anybody is hockey, and Ruff has been in the league a long time. And there's the fact that Ruff did spend three years as a New York Ranger, so perhaps there's mutual appeal there from both Ruff and Sather.
The concern with him is how much reputation surpasses actual results. Tortorella was let go, at least according to Sather, in part because the team didn't meet the expectations of reaching the Stanley Cup Finals. Well, in 15 years Ruff managed to do that only once, and that was largely on the back on arguably the greatest single-season performance in the history of goaltending by Dominik Hasek. Of course, what Ruff did with Buffalo's culture and location and economics is different from what he maybe could do here. But nonetheless it is worth the concern; if Torts wore out his welcome in a mutant season then how much faith can we put in Ruff, who hasn't so much as led a team past the first round since 2007?
Dave Tippett - The currenty coach of the Phoenix Coyotes, Tippett is a coach that many teams would love to add. The Rangers are always going to be a desirable landing spot in any state, and especially in this state with so much talent and potential. Tippett had a solid though unspectacular tenure as Dallas Stars head coach, but he has truly improved his stock since joining the Coyotes. Despite Phoenix being a non-traditional hockey market and therefore not exactly preferable landing spot for players, as well as the absolutely abysmal financial situation they've been engulfed in for years now, Tippett has led the Coyotes to the playoffs all three years he was in charge prior to this shortened season. He won the Jack Adams in 2010, his first season with the Coyotes, and led them to the Western Conference Finals last season.
The concern with Tippett is his defensive system. Not that a defensive system in itself is problematic; all that matters is winning no matter the score. You have to wonder, though, how desirable a head coach persistent with and dependent on a defense-first philosophy is for Glen Sather after watching a team loaded with talent have an embarrassingly bad powerplay and ultimately fail to produce in any capacity. There's also the problem of actually prying him away from Phoenix. Tippett is still under contract in Phoenix and their GM, Don Maloney, has denied all requests from other teams to speak to TIppett. Still, if Tippett decides he wants to leave then Maloney is probably not going to hold him hostage. It might be tempting to join talented team like the Rangers with a ton of money to spend instead of staying with the cash-strapped Coyotes who might not even be in Phoenix by next year.
Alain Vigneault - Just fired by the Canucks after a poor showing in the first round against the Sharks, Vigneault is a virtual lock to be linked to the Rangers. He has shown the ability to get plenty of offense out of talented players - The Sedins, Kesler, Burrows, Edler, etc. - His teams have consistently been among the best in the NHL offensively. He won the Jack Adams Award in 2007 and the Canucks were always viewed as a contender under Vigneault.
The concern with him, like Ruff, is if he is the guy to get the Rangers to that next level. Vigneault only made it past the second round once in seven years with the Canucks. The team became a media circus for all the wrong reasons. The goaltender situation with Luongo and Schneider became an absolute joke. To be fair, a lot of this is probably on GM Mike Gillis, but nonetheless Vigneault does come with baggage and question marks. Still, he is possibly the most proven, high-potential name out there.
Dallas Eakins - His name has constantly been floated out there as the next guy to be a successful NHL coach. Eakins, currently head coach of the Toronto Marlies in the AHL, led the Marlies to the AHL Finals last season and his team had another successful regular season this year before imploding in the playoffs. He was viewed by many as the obvious replacement for Ron Wilson with the Maple Leafs but the gig was instead given to Randy Carlyle. Since then, he has been linked to numerous coaching gigs. He is currently in Dallas to speak with the Stars about their vancancy and the Canucks have also inquired about him as well. He played three games for the Rangers in his short NHL career, so make of that what you want.
The big concern for him is lack of experience. Everyone has to start somewhere; Scotty Bowman wasn't born as a legendary NHL coach. Still, you have to wonder if that's the kind of coach you want to bring into New York City to lead a team that is expected to contend for the Cup immediately. Alternatively, the Stars won't have high expectations and will give him room to slowly build his roster, make mistakes and learn, and groom the team into what he wants it to be.
Mike Eaves - The Pierre McGuiare favorite, Mike Eaves is the head coach of the University of Wisconsin, where he's been since 2002. Over time he has built Wisconsin into a powerhouse in the NCAA and has put himself in discussions for the USA's Olympic head coaching job. Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan would surely love it if he got the job since they both played for him at Wisconsin and really grew their games. With the number of talented young players that have come out of Wisconsin Sather would probably feel pretty safe handing him the futures of guys like Chris Kreider, JT Miller, and Dylan McIlrath.
Again, the concern is experience. He has been an assistant at the NHL level for the Flyers but ultimately is unproven. Succeeding at the NCAA level is a completely different monster from succeeding at the NHL level. Proving he can handle 20-year-olds is one thing, but handling and coaching guys like Rick Nash or Dan Girardi or Arron Asham to success is a whole different problem. I'm not holding my breath that he's willing to leave Wisconsin, either. Still, he's an intriguing name and one that shouldn't be ignored.
Mike Sullivan - Don't shoot the messenger here. Mike Sullivan was Tortorella's assistant and it seems probable that he will be leaving as well. Especially since the two have been a package deal for so long.
But let's do our due dilligence here. It wouldn't be the first time that an assistant took over from his former boss. And while I reiterate again that he's probably going to be packing his bags in the coming days, it is a bit curious that Glen Sather said Sullivan is still part of the organization for the time-being. Why not just let him go if he was 100 percent not a part of future plans? Is it at all possible that Sather is at least keeping his options open and considering Sullivan as Tortorella's replacement? There is probably a much more logical explanation to keeping him around at least for now, but I don't feel safe ruling anything out. It's a bit skeptical, at least.
Mark Messier - Here is the name which is going to make for a lot of discussion and debate. If you're reading this website then I shouldn't need to summarize who Mark Messier is and what he means to this franchise. He's a legend and will always be a legend. Both by our standards and the standards of hockey itself. Right now he is Special Assistant to Glen Sather, is involved in some scouting and development and probably has some sort of input into personnel decisions.
But here is where it's going to start to get ugly. The concern for lack of experience for guys like Eakins and Eaves have already been expressed. Their resumés look full compared to Mark Messier's. Aside from coaching Team Canada is a couple of minor European tournaments, he has virtually no coaching experience at any level. At all. Going from that to head coach of the New York Rangers as they look to win a Stanley Cup immediately is, to put it lightly, a jump. And even if he won't be one to wilt under pressure of expectations and New York that doesn't mean he is actually ready for the job.
There's also the fact that, historically, people who were superstars in the NHL have been awful NHL coaches. Search for former great NHL players who were also good coaches and you're going to have a tough time. Toe Blake made the Hall-Of-Fame as a player before coaching the Canadiens to eight Stanley Cups, but he's pretty much the exception to the rule. Larry Robinson won a Stanley Cup with the Devils but his overall record isn't completely convincing. From there, Denis Savard, Phil Esposito, Wayne Gretzky, Bryan Trottier, and Brad Park are some of the best players to become NHL coaches, and they ranged from mediocre to absolutely awful. In fact, look around the NHL and you'll see that the best, or at least most reputable coaches - Trotz, Julien, Tippett, Hitchcock, Babcock, to name some - had either nondescript NHL careers or never even made it to the NHL level at all. Could Messier be different? Sure. But let's not pretend that any desire to bring him in as Tortorella's replacement is based in anything other than nostalgia.
There will be some other names linked for sure, and it's very possible that the next head coach of the New York Rangers isn't even on this list. We'll update you as more people are linked and the coaching search narrows. Feel free to throw your own names into the discussion and debate which guy(s) you think best suit the Rangers.
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Found a pretty in-depth article on Dallas Eakins from a Canucks blog. Someone might have posted it already, but I'm not reading through 199 comments to check (sorry).
Sounds like a solid candidate, though it's concerning that his team has struggled on the powerplay. However, it also mentioned that he relies on his assistants, and if they brought in a powerplay specialist with him, it could be an solid combination.
My bet is Sather will go with an established name. He'll take a stab at Tippet, though I don't think it will work. Vigneault or Ruff will probably get the job. With Hank talking as if he's on the fence, they probably want to bring in a guy with a proven track record rather than take a risk on a young talent.
Personally, I'd rather see a guy like Eakins get the job. It sounds like his players enjoy playing for him, and he's got a reputation for developing young talent. I'd say try to snag him as an assistant, but from the sounds of it, he's going to get a head coaching job next year.
I was just reading some other articles about possible replacements. what do you guys think of Guy Boucher? I really like him as a coach... he didn't have a solid blue line or good goaltending in Tampa... I think he'd be a huge help in boosting the offense.
Torts brought back some grit and work ethic to this team, but how badly they got outplayed every night in the playoffs was a joke. That is his coaching and the system.They played like a bunch chickens with their heads cut off, with very little purpose to their game. They almost always looked scared with the puck in every area of the ice. They had trouble with one forchecker and most times and could not execute simple passes. They didn't support each other offensively or defensively, except stand in front of Henrik. I think firing the coach was the right move.
Viglenault was also apparently on the shortlist back in 2002 when Sather went with Bryan Trottier. And we all know how much Sather likes to sign guys he meant to sign 10 years ago...
i don't know who is going to be our next coach, but name Alain Viglenault sound better and better, at least for me...
Take it for what it's worth but the morning papers apparently got inside information that the players had it withTortorella. It was blantly obvious but many of the Torts lovers failed to see that. Well good riddance, time to move on.
There was a ton going on behind the curtain in this one. The Haley/Newbury activations certainly seemed to hint at one side (JT) or the other (GS) getting his way and the losing side getting upset. In either case we have lots to work with over the next few months but we must take a completely different approach to building the 2013-2014 version of this team. To win in this NHL you need size and strength, something this squad lacked. Gone are the days when Kelly Kisio types could skate around in circles...Keys to 2013-2014
In truth, rostering one or two smaller forwards should be the max. We have a plethora of small (or small playing) forwards. Hags, Cally, Zuc, Derek D, Brassard, Richards, Powe..not even to mention basically every single guy we call up from Hartford.
Cally sticks that is obvious. Brassard is an automatic too (listed at 6-1, 202??). Hagelin is a monster on the boards but we need a guy to dig out the puck and head to the net, where he has been very weak physically. Quite honestly, Hags, Zuc, DD, Richards and Powe could all be upgraded with size.
GET BIG SLAPSHOTS
Enough with forwards playing the blue line on Power Plays. They are not natural back there, they don't have instinct back there and god knows we dont have the right forward even if we were to continue to bang our heads against the wall with that strategy. We need big shots back there. If it is at the expense of some speed, so be it. The kind of guys that when they wind up all the players in the way really wince knowing one is coming their way. MDZ cant shoot, Stralman cant shoot, Emminger cant shoot, Staal, (i hate to say it) may never be the same an is only and isnt really a gun from back there. The only guy really looking to rip has been Moore and Danny G on occasion. We need 2 guns. Even though Stralman was key at skating us out of our zone, he and Emminger could go. MDZ could still flourish in a more offensive system. Again, at least get one Missle for the back line. Our power play has never been the same since Zubov left (the best we ever had running the show on the PP with BL).
UPGRADE MARTY B
Hank needed a break the final few weeks of the regular season and got none. Marty wasnt quite the guy he was the year before in his appearences. We are kind of stuck with him but eating that smaller contract might not be the worst thing. Let Talbot come up and tutor under Hank.
Spend cap money obviously on Mcdonagh and Steppan. Let the offers come in for Hags and Zuc and let them walk for comp. Put their money to use by building some more size up front. A more offensive minded system will free up our talent and replace Hags and Zuc's production. Play 2 D on the PP. Find the back line gun. Anywhere, UFA, RFA, Euro, Wolfpack, i dont care. Bring up Talbot.
Now that was easy....in writing.
now bring in a good coach that cares about offense. With Torts being fired i guess Richards days in NY are over.
fucking sather. we need to get rid of this clown. the philosophy of this franchise has kept us at 4 championships in almost 100 years. messier is NOT a candidate for coach. he hasnt done shit. he ran the team when he was captain and thats why we have no playoffs for 7 years. i say, get rid of sather, get jeff gorton in as GM, let him run the team. we will have a regular franchise where we can actually get great prospects, build for the future AND now at the same time. get a coach who isn't lindy ruff or an equivalent, get a guy who can not be a hot head and a douche bag to its players, actually respect who he is coaching and make them WANT to work and appreciate their goalie. dallas eakins looks good. no experience but worth it. i dunno drunken rants. someone gimme a billion bucks. lemme buy the msg franchises. move the nigger knicks to the west coast and make NHL fucking rangers hockey the real sport in this shithole city again. make this the franchise it should fucking be. ok bye.
I wonder if they would give Mess a shot. I think he learned quite a bit under Keenan and some rumors suggest that he kept the '94 team cohesive after Keenan lost some respect that season. I think he'd be an exception to that rule that great players make terrible coaches.
What about Jon Cooper? If you don't know who he is, read this: http://blogs.edmontonjournal.com/2012/03/28/profiles-in-coaching-jon-cooper/
Shouldn't have picked the Rangers to win it all... picked everything else right in the entire fricken bracket...
@johnnyb3910 Lol, it's Vigneault. I know now because I've had to look it up pretty much every time, myself -- and I took French in high school. :)
One has to wonder whether the Rangers can deal with a coach whose name is so hard to spell.
I agree with you, right now, he has to be considered the front runner over Tippett because he's available, has a radically different style from Torts and is a modern hockey thinker. I'm nervous about his playoff record, though, but at least he's considered a master game-time tactician -- an area where Torts was shaky this year.
@mdspwt Totally agree with the big slapshots. Maybe it's because we lost so many games to teams with big shots on the point, but it's a glaring hole in our offense.
Hadn't really thought about Marty B, and I think you make a decent point. However, I don't think it falls into the "most pressing issues" category. I think it would be a worthwhile move if you could get someone better at the same price we're paying him or someone equal at a lower price. If Hank resigns (the scariest "if" out there) he is going to be eating up major cap space. That's my only concern about upgrading at the backup position, but if the numbers work, I agree.
@mdspwt I think if the Rangers let Hagelin go, they'll regret it. No, he's not a scorer, but his speed and puck acquisition skills are huge. I'm also a big Dorsett fan, despite the 2 ridiculously stupid penalties he took in the final game. That's an aberration in my book. The Rangers do not get tougher letting him go. And that toughness is HUGE. And will be even more important if they go the Blues/Kings route of big, punishing lineups.
I agree with you about Zuc, Richards and Powe -- although I like Zuc's skill on a lower line.
I also agree with the get bigger, get slapshots and upgrade Marty B plans. I don't think the upgrade Marty B is as important as depth, physicality and closing speed, though. Detroit came close to beating Chicago this year almost entirely with their ability -- up and down the line-up -- to close on the puck. It was pretty amazing to watch them in games 2, 3 and 4 of that series.
I think, to accomplish the size upgrade, we just need 1 or 2 players. Make bottom of the lineup replacement choices to go with younger, bigger guys or make some moves in the direction of Kris Stewart types. I'm a big Ryane Clowe fan, but, at this point, he might be damaged goods.
Another way to go is more radical: change entirely into a puck possession team like the Western Conference elites. Keep Nash, Hagelin, Stepan and (shudder) Richards and revamp the rest of the forward lines completely. I haven't thought through this point very well, yet.
Finally, NO MATTER WHAT make it a point next year to NEVER let opponents get away with the type of crap that Lucic, Orpik, Kaleta and Paccioretty pulled in the first half of this season.
@ry_man GFY you racist fuck
@ry_man LOL drunk rant. He's going to wake up this morning asking himself "...did I write that?"
@ry_man this kind of racism is offensive and you should be ashamed, but more then likely you are to ignorant to express such an emotion.
@Neans guy sounds awesome... but isnt he already coaching Tampa Bay... didnt they switch to him when Boucher was fired
@jmacwilli Torts may have not deserved to lose his job, but if he indeed lost the room, it's irrelevant. He's the one that's gonna go, not the entire roster. I'm surprised they shipped Gabby off after Torts clearly lost him, but that may have been done with consideration that he was an impending UFA after next season occupying a huge part of the cap.
You also have the chicken/egg situation here too. The players didn't execute, sure, but was it because Torts had lost them and they weren't motivated? or was it just purely that they underperformed? Probably a combination of both, but a toxic combination nonetheless.
@Josh6 Please no.
@Josh6 Yeah, but if the Rangers had won it all, you could never look at yourself in the mirror.
@Josh6 That was an incredibly entertaining overtime.
@Wallace1 weird trap crap... I like the offensive side he brings, but he has no idea what to do when it comes to defense... Absolutely none, just ask Tampa its why he was fired
@Hotfreak @mdspwt I agree with you. WIth a better offensive system Hagelin will do better. For a small guy he does come away with the puck more often than most. I am not a big Zuc fan and forget about Powe. Richards will be an interesting story. And the crap that the Rangers endure from Lucic and Orpik and Neil cannot happen. I still think that The coach held back the tougher players in the playoffs and that hurt them, especially last year when Neil ran wild. And What good are tough players if they dont play? Neil plays, all the Boston tough guys play and our guys sit or get traded or let go.. I hope that Sather is thinking in this direction. I think JT was a solid coach but a change was needed.
@SpazzBrown I second the opinion that Pitt is not going to do it. Dunno whether the Bruins will be the ones to oust them, though.
One thing's for sure, the Western Conference final is going to be something.
@McPhee37 @Josh6 @Wallace1 Interesting George - I was wondering if Nolan was available, this is a guy who does get the inner "3rd dimension" or the below the surface stuff, as well as the human element that Torts was completely oblivious to. Maybe it's that native American wisdom or whatever, don't know enough about him but he seemed to have insight and guile which would be a refreshing change from 0 strategy and blind impulsion that we've had to deal with here
@McPhee37 @Josh6 @Wallace1His first season with the Flyers saw his team set a franchise record for consecutive losses (10 games) and finish the 2006–07 season with the club's worst record in its 40-year history. The Flyers set an NHL record for the biggest drop off in points from one season to the next – 101 points in the 2005–06 season to 56 points in the 2006–07 season for lowest point total in the league.
all i read about John Stevens coaching career lol