For those of you who just crawled out of your dark, dank hole in the ground, the New York Rangers fired head coach John Tortorella yesterday after coming to the conclusion that he was the reason their poorly-assembled team failed to win the Stanley Cup this year.
With the firing comes the inevitable flood of rumors and predictions – who will be standing behind the bench when the 2013-2014 regular season kicks off?
The practical, but least sexy, answer is that the Rangers organization will promote (if you want to call it that) assistant general manager Jim Schoenfeld to the head coaching position. According to the folks over at Bleacher Report, Schoenfeld has 580 games of head coaching experience to his name, and out of ten total years of head coaching, his teams have failed to make the playoffs only twice. He knows the organization well, and he knows how to handle the media, so he could be the man for the job.
The man that most New York fans probably most want to see become the next head coach of the blueshirts is Alain Vigneault, who
was recently relieved of his duties by the under-achieving Vancouver Canucks. Hmmm. Replacing the coach of an under-achieving squad with . . . the coach of an under-achieving squad? Really? Having said that, Vigneault led the Canucks to six postseason berths in his seven years in Vancouver, including one trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. He clearly knows how to get his team to produce on offense, and that’s exactly the area that New York needs to improve in the most – but he also managed to make Vancouver a respectable team on defense, as well, as they have been ranked in the top ten in GAA for the past three season. (Thanks to Bleacher Report, again!) Somewhere in the middle of the “Promote from within the ranks” approach and the “Jump on the sexiest option” approach, lies a third possibility for the New York Rangers: hiring Lindy Ruff.
Despite the fact that he was fired around the midway point of this previous season, most anyone you speak with about Ruff will tell you that he’s a good coach who had simply remained in one place for too long. He has plenty of experience, and like Vigneault he has also led a team to the Stanley Cup Finals. He is best known for his defensive approach to the game, and has proven that he can do wonders with a team that relies mostly on stingy defense and even stingier goaltending – and he would be inheriting one of the best goaltenders in the NHL with Henrik Lundqvist. Ruff also spent time playing in New York as a member of the Rangers, from 1989-1991, so he fully understands the culture and the expectations that each and every Rangers’ team carries on its shoulders. Make no doubt about it: Ruff WILL be considered one of the candidates for this job.
Poll time: who do you think ultimately gets the job? The safe choice? The popular choice? Or the man who manned the bench for the Sabres for 16 season? Let your voice be heard!