For Alain Vigneault, the final determining factors in accepting the Rangers’ head coaching position were the organization’s tradition and an opportunity to win a Stanley Cup.
“It’s an Original Six that’s got a chance to win. It’s one of the elite teams, in my opinion, in the NHL. Given the opportunity to come here, it was something that I couldn’t turn down,” Vigneault said during his introductory press conference at Radio City Music Hall Friday morning
Vigneault is the 35th coach in franchise history. He replaces John Tortorella, who was fired on May 29. Reportedly, Vigneault’s deal with the Rangers is for five years and $10 million.
He was joined on the dais by owner James Dolan and team president and general manager Glen Sather. Assistant general managers Jim Schoenfeld and Jeff Gorton also represented the organization.
Vigneault was a finalist for the Dallas head coaching job before turning the position down.
“it’s a lot easier to negotiate yourself a contract when you have two teams that are after you,” Vigneault joked.
In 11 seasons with Montreal and Vancouver, Vigneault compiled a 422-288-35-61 record and won the Jack Adams Award in 2006-07, his first year with the Canucks.
Under Vigneault’s stewardship, Vancouver was a perennial playoff contender. The Canucks qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs in six of his seven years as coach, including an appearance in the Stanley Cup Final in 2010-11. Vancouver advanced to Game 7, where they lost to the Bruins.
The Presidents’ Trophy winners in 2010-11 and 2011-12, Vancouver won the Northwest Division five years in a row and six out of seven times overall during Vigneault’s tenure.
However, first-round exits the last two years — despite having home-ice advantage — led Vancouver general manager Mike Gillis to make the decision to replace Vigneault.
“That’s a question you should ask them,” Vigneault said. “I loved my time in Vancouver. It’s a first-class organization. It’s a real passionate market that I had seven great years [in]. I’ve turned the page on that chapter of my life and I’m opening a new chapter here in New York.”
While the purpose of the day was to introduce Vigneault, Tortorella’s presence hovered over the proceedings.
When he met with reporters following the press conference, team president and general manager Glen Sather implied he had been contemplating making a coaching change during the season, and that Tortorella was “beyond stubborn” when it came to modifying his system.
“A lot of guys had the crap kicked out of them with injuries,” Sather said.
Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin each recently underwent surgeries to repair torn labrums in their left shoulders.
A reporter from the Winnipeg Free Press tweeted Friday afternoon the Vancouver offered Tortorella the head coaching position “and [the] two sides are close to a deal.” Should Tortorella land the job, he will replace Vigneault, who was fired on May 22.
“I’d like to take a moment to say thanks to John Tortorella. He served us well, brought us success,” said Dolan.
“Glen told me how impressed he was during the interview with Alain in Palm Springs, [Calif.] and when we met on Friday, I quickly understood why. Alain is a proven winner in the NHL. We believe he is perfectly suited to help the Rangers continue our drive to win the Stanley Cup.”
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.