Alain Vigneault, arguably the most sought-after available hockey coach on the market, has chosen his next home.
UPDATE: Friday, June 21, at 11:20 a.m. ET by Kyle Vassalo
The Rangers have officially announced the hiring of Alain Vigneault:
---End of Update---
According to Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News, the New York Rangers have reached an agreement for Vigneault to be their next head coach:
According to Louis Jean of TVA Sports, Vigneault's deal will be a 5-year deal that will pay him $2 million per year:
No official announcement has been scheduled as of yet.
The 52-year-old Vigneault was fired by the Vancouver Canucks after the San Jose Sharks ousted the Northwest Division champs in Round 1 of the playoffs. Vigneault spent seven seasons in Vancouver, missing the playoffs only once. He previously spent parts of four seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, from 1997 to 2000.
Despite the Canucks' playoff disappointment, it became quite clear that Vigneault would not be without work for long. He was a favorite in the Dallas Stars' coaching search, but withdrew his name early Saturday as it became clear he was on the precipice of landing in New York, per the Dallas Morning News' Mike Heika.
Vigneault will take over for John Tortorella, who was fired in May after four-plus seasons. Tortorella led New York to a 26-18-4 record during the lockout-shortened regular season, eventually falling to the Boston Bruins in the second round of the playoffs.
Despite the relative success of New York's 2012-13 campaign, Tortorella's dismissal was rooted in the massive preseason expectations for the Rangers. Equipped with one of the most talented on-paper rosters in the NHL, the Rangers were expected by some to vie for the Stanley Cup. Instead, New York found regular-season and playoff disappointment—the latter becoming something of the norm under Tortorella.
It was also clear Tortorella struggled to get along with some of his most prominent players. Former Rangers standout Sean Avery expressed open glee that the Rangers let Tortorella go in an interview with the New York Post's Larry Brooks.
“Oh, I had a huge smile on my face, no question about it,” Avery said. “It’s not that I’m happy for myself. I’m happy for the Rangers and Ranger fans."
Despite Tortorella's polarizing nature, the Rangers' hiring of Vigneault as his replacement won't come without controversy. New York media were abuzz with reports that Mark Messier, the legendary center who brought a Stanley Cup back to Madison Square Garden in 1994, had interviewed and was a finalist for the position. The Hall of Famer is one of the most beloved faces in franchise history, and his candidacy sparked a ton of intrigue from fans.
Alas, it seems New York landed on the man with NHL coaching experience. Vigneault brings over a decade of steady-handed excellence to the bench, and his Vancouver squads were always among the top contenders in the Western Conference.
With expectations undoubtedly sky high next season, it will be interesting to see how Vigneault handles the white-hot New York spotlight.
The Rangers' hiring of Vigneault also leaves his former home, Vancouver, and Dallas as the only vacancies in the NHL.
There has been no statement on the veracity of Leonard's report from the Rangers or Vigneault at this time.
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