Just days after relieving head coach John Tortorella of his duties, the New York Rangers began their search for a replacement. They'll be looking at many of the candidates that a lot of other teams have been looking at. A wild card in the situation could be a legendary former Ranger.
The Rangers have reportedly received permission to talk to former Vancouver Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault, as well as current Toronto Marlies (AHL) bench boss Dallas Eakins to fill their head coaching vacancy. Eakins is also up for Vigneault's head coaching vacancy in Vancouver, as well as an associate coaching gig in Edmonton. Vigneault is one of the most known commodities on the head coaching market this summer, and has also interviewed with the Dallas Stars, as has Dallas Eakins, which makes this all very confusing to read if you're not careful.
Vigneault's last head coaching stint with Vancouver lasted seven seasons before he was fired after a second consecutive first-round exit. He led the club to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2011 before losing to the Boston Bruins. His career coaching record is 422-288-35-61, and his Canucks teams had a .600 or better winning percentage and first-place finish in the Northwest Division the past five seasons.
Eakins, who played briefly for the Blueshirts in 1996-97, is one of the rising stars in the coaching ranks. After spending two seasons with the NHL Maple Leafs as an assistant, he's consistently improved their farm team in four seasons as head coach. He led the club to a Calder Cup Final appearance in 2011-12, while the team bowed out in the second round despite a 44-24-8 record.
While Vigneault and Eakins are considered two of the more conventional candidates to interview for the gig, Ranger legend Mark Messier looms a bit over the process. Bob McKenzie reported that if the former New York captain is interested in the job, he will have a shot. Messier's hiring would send a huge buzz throughout the city, but Vigneault or Eakins might be the safer hires, should the Rangers be able to lock one of them down.