The New York Rangers announced on Saturday night, just hours after their season ended, that they have fired head coach Alain Vigneault after five seasons with the team.
His firing came after the Rangers’ 5-0 loss to the Philadephia Flyers to end a season in which they went 34-39-9 for just 77 points. It is the first time since 2009-10 that the Rangers did not make the postseason.
The 56-year-old led the Rangers to a 226-147-37 record, including four trips to the postseason that yielded an Eastern Conference championship during his first year as head coach in 2013-14. New York would lose in the Stanley Cup Final that year to the Los Angeles Kings in five games.
It was the closest Vigneault and the Rangers would get to winning a title despite recording over 100 points in each of the following three seasons. However, they bowed out in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2015 before early exits in the first and second rounds the next two seasons.
Entering the 2017-18 campaign, the Rangers were expected to make the postseason for an eighth-straight season, a streak that began under Vigneault’s predecessor John Tortorella. But it was clear early on that this would be a difficult season after beginning the season 2-6-2 despite a home-heavy schedule.
They managed to turn things around momentarily by winning 13 of 17 games from Oct. 31 to Dec. 9, putting them right in the thick of a heavily-contested Metropolitan Division. But the end of the 2017 calendar year brought about the beginning of the end for the Rangers season and ultimately, Vigneault’s tenure in New York.
Following an overtime win in the NHL Winter Classic on New Year’s Day, the Rangers dropped 18 of their next 24 games, dropping them to the bottom of the division and transforming the team into sellers at the league’s Feb. 26 trade deadline. They would go on to trade Nick Holden, J.T. Miller, Rick Nash and captain Ryan McDonagh as team president Glen Sather and general manager Jeff Gorton admitted to fans that the team was in a sudden rebuilding mode.
Vigneault and the Rangers lost 12 of their final 19 games of the season after the deadline passed.
With Vigneault now out, New York could possibly look internally to find its new leading man. Assistant Lindy Ruff, who was hired prior to the start of this season, spent the previous 19 as the head coach of the Buffalo Sabres and Dallas Stars. In nearly 1,500 games coached, Ruff has 571-432-78 record, including an Eastern Conference title with the Sabres in 1999.