NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Welcome to New York!
Alain Vigneault wasn’t out of work for long.
Just over four weeks after he was fired by the Vancouver Canucks, Vigneault took over as coach of the New York Rangers on Friday — replacing the blustery John Tortorella three weeks after his dismissal.
Vigneault edged out former Rangers captain Mark Messier, longtime former Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff and others in landing the job as New York’s new bench boss.
He was given a five-year deal.
“I was thinking about the opportunity to coach the New York Rangers, one of the Original Six teams,” the 52-year-old Vigneault said. “There is not a chance I could pass that up. Honored and privileged I feel at this moment.”
In 11 seasons as an NHL head coach with Montreal and Vancouver, Vigneault is 422-288-35-61 in 806 games.
He was officially introduced during a morning news conference at Radio City Music Hall, which had his name up on the famous marquee outside.
Vigneault was interviewed last week during the Rangers’ organizational meetings in California and then met with team owner James Dolan in New York. Messier also had an interview during the club meetings out West.
“We had a list of 13 candidates and I narrowed it down to nine,” said Glen Sather, Rangers president and general manager. “I interviewed two in person and four over the phone. It wasn’t just between A.V. and Mark.”
It is unknown if Messier will remain with the Rangers. He is currently a special assistant to Sather. Messier, a Hockey Hall of Fame player, lacks the coaching experience that Vigneault is loaded with.
Tortorella was fired after 4½ seasons with New York on May 29 — four days after the Rangers were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by Boston in five games. A year ago, the Rangers reached the Eastern Conference finals before bowing out against New Jersey.