Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky have both said they want to take over the rudderless team after Torts was canned with one year remaining on his contract, reports The New York Post.
Rangers general manager Glen Sather is looking at a number of possible candidates who have arisen from both inside and outside the organization. Messier was the one name being mentioned that didn’t have a day of professional head coaching experience, while The Great One hasn’t coached since he was behind the Coyotes’ bench in 2009.
As originally reported by Canadian outlet SportsNet, Messier wants this to be his first head-coaching job in either the AHL or NHL. The sole coaching experience for the 52-year-old is with Team Canada during the 2010 Deutschland Cup and the 2010 Spengler Cup. He was also the general manager for Canada during the 2010 World Championships in Germany.
Gretzky bought a part-ownership stake in the Coyotes in 2001, two years after finishing what most consider the best career of all time with a three-season stint for the Rangers. He took over behind the bench in Phoenix in 2005, and couldn’t get them to the playoffs in four straight seasons before giving up the role.
It is unsure if either Messier or Gretzky have made their offers clear to Sather, who is expected to begin the interviewing process at the organization’s annual meeting in late June in La Quinta, Calif. The team has also received permission to speak to former Canucks coach Alain Vigneault, as well as Toronto Marlies (AHL) coach Dallas Eakins. Another name high on the list would be former Sabres coach Lindy Ruff, but it’s unsure if the Blueshirts have obtained permission to bring him in for an interview.
Both the Stars and Canucks are still looking for coaches, as well, and it would seem that they might be more inclined to have a coach with NHL or AHL experience.
Gretzky played out the last three years of his illustrious career with the Rangers until 1999. While Messier became one of New York's greatest sports legends ever after guaranteeing a Game 6 win over the New Jersey Devils in the 1994 Eastern Conference finals and backing it up with a hat trick. Then he scored the game-winning goal against the Vancouver Canucks to give the Rangers their first Stanley Cup in 54 years.
The two friends played together at Madison Square Garden for one season in 1996-97.