With the head coaching position of the New York Rangers still very much in the air, the pool of candidates to replace the recently axed John Tortorella just became a whole lot smaller with Pittsburgh’s announcing the signing of two-year extension with current head coach Dan Bylsma. Bylsma, the second-winningest coach in franchise history, received an early vote of confidence by Pittsburgh’s top brass after leading the team to NHL’s best regular season record before facing rumors of his potential firing after an embarassing sweep by Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Couple Bylsma’s extension with Edmonton’s hiring of hot coaching prospect Dallas Eakins to a multi-year deal, the remaining names on the board to fill the rangers vacancy behind the bench is now down to ex-Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault and former long-time Buffalo bench boss Lindy Ruff. While Messier’s name is still very much in the mix, his lack of coaching experience coupled with the high-quality of candidates still available make the fan favorite choice less and less likely.
Vigneault, who previously led Vancouver to back-to-back Presidents’ Trophies in 2011 and 2012, with 2011 Finals appearance to boot, has clearly vaulted to the top of the Rangers list now that Eakins & Bylsma are no longer on the market. With certainly a contrasting style to that of Torts and the hard nosed Lindy Ruff, Vigneault with his track record of success coaching in a high-pressure and at times rabid hockey market may very well be the change the Rangers organization needs to take advantage of Sather’s built to win now team.
If I’m Sather, at this point my next question to Vigneault would be is…”When can you sign on the dotted line?”