The previous head coach of the New York Rangers, John Tortorella, was not exactly the most media savvy gentleman. With a live, televised press conference from Radio City Music Hall to announce his hiring, Alain Vigneault suggested that at least in one way, things will be different this time.
Chairman of Madison Square Garden James Dolan and Rangers president/general manager Glen Sather announced Friday that Vigneault -- a man with more than a decade of NHL head coaching experience -- will become the 35th coach in the franchise's long and storied history. It was a long-speculated move, after a bunch of candidates were bantered about. In actuality, Sather admitted, only Vigneault and Mark Messier ever had in-person interviews. Vigneault was seen as the man for the job.
The new coach said many of the typical things you say when brought into a big-market team looking to get over that Stanley Cup hump. "I came here to win," Vigneault proclaimed almost immediately as he got the microphone at Radio City. He will plan to let offensive players do more than they were able to under Tortorella, suggesting guys like Rick Nash will have the "latitude to make something out of nothing."
Vigneault also dropped in a joke about how much easier it is to negotiate a contract "when you have two teams after you." It got a big laugh from the room, though perhaps Sather wasn't chuckling as much. For his part, Sather called Vigneault "a perfect fit" and said he was "one of the top coaches in the NHL . . . we are fortunate to have him here in New York."
The Quebec City native has a career head coaching record of 422-288-35, with six postseason appearances in his seven years with the Canucks. Vigneault led Vancouver to a Stanley Cup Final in 2011, only to fall in seven games to the Boston Bruins. He was dismissed by the team after two consecutive first round exits. The Rangers are coming off a second-round exit, a year after being upset in the Eastern Conference Final by the New Jersey Devils.