The offseason has barely started for the New York Rangers and there's a significant hole to fill.
John Tortorella was fired Wednesday, just days after his team was bumped from the playoffs by the Bruins. Tortorella, whose media interactions are YouTube gold, couldn't push the Rangers to a title and his shelf life seemed to expire.
So where does MSG turn? The Rangers have lots of skill and a wave of young talent -- Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, etc. -- is arriving. They need the right voice behind the bench.
There are obvious names that immediately surfaced: Alain Vigneault, Lindy Ruff and even Mark Messier. Ruff ended his NHL playing career with the Rangers and seems pegged as a favorite.
There's also Rangers executive Jim Schoenfeld, who has been the GM of the Wolf Pack/Whale and was Hartford's coach before Ken Gernander took over. And what about Gernander, who has been a head coach in the AHL for six years? Gernander is highly regarded by New York's hierarchy and his name was tossed around in some media circles Wednesday.
More likely, Gernander could be a candidate for an assistant coaching slot.
He's not the only guy with Hartford ties among the names considered to replace Tortorella. Former Whaler Dave Tippett is viewed a highly coveted candidate for a number of jobs. He's currently the coach of the Pheonix Coyotes, but his contract expires June 30 and he's expected to be a popular free agent.
Would the Rangers drag out their search in hopes of hiring Tippett?
Another name in play: Paul Maurice, the former Whalers coach who spent last season in Russia. Maurice has coached 1,084 NHL games and he's only 46. He's had two stints with Whalers/Hurricanes and remains a intriguing candidate throughout the NHL.
Imagine the Rangers hiring Tippett or Maurice as head coach and put Gernander on the staff. That's a lot of Hartford hockey history behind the bench at MSG.
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