Mark Messier won’t be the next head coach of the New York Rangers. According to the NY Post, he’s contemplating what role he’ll still have with the franchise, If any:
“I don’t really know what Mark is going to do,” general manager Glen Sather told The Post last night. “He was very disappointed when I called to tell him that we were going to hire Alain.
“He said he wanted to take a few days and would call me, but we haven’t spoken since.”
Messier has been a special assistant to Sather for the last four years, but began focusing on a head coaching gig after John Tortorella was fired.
Thing is, losing the New York Rangers’ coaching gig to Alain Vigneault is the best thing that could happen to Messier; assuming he actually wants to be an NHL head coach and not simply head coach of the New York Rangers.
As we’ve written before, Messier has some intangibles that could lead to a successful coaching career. He’s got the gravitas of a Stanley Cup winning captain, an undeniable drive to succeed and would likely relate to players as one of their own, rather than a coaching taskmaster.
Plus, with his follicle challenges, it would be like Lex Luthor was coaching your team, as played by Billy Zane ...
But NHL coaches aren’t born, they’re made. Adam Oates is a great example: Extremely intelligent, a student of the game, and a player with name recognition for generations of talent that came after him; but he needed some time as an NHL assistant coach before he could earn a head coaching gig with the Washington Capitals.
Wayne Gretzky is another example, and one Messier shouldn’t follow: He hadn’t coached a game before taking over the Phoenix Coyotes in 2005-06, and proceeded to miss the playoffs for four consecutive seasons – losing 161 games and much of his luster as a man that could master every facet of hockey.
Messier’s coaching experience is limited to coached the Canadian national team in the Deutschland Cup and Spengler Cup in 2010. This hasn’t stopped teams like the Edmonton Oilers and the Rangers from inquiring about his services as a head coach, but in both cases that’s as much about name recognition as it is coaching acumen.
So if the former captain is serious about this stuff, he needs to understand that his name is a foot in the door but that it doesn’t automatically get to appear on that door next to “head coach” just because he’s Mark Messier.
He can take the Oates route and work as an assistant. He could be a rock-star AHL coach, honing his craft and earning experience as a bench boss. He can learn the ropes like any novice and become a better coach because of it.
Or he can just admit that this was about being HEAD COACH OF THE NEW YORK RANGERS and nothing else will do. That’s fine. Leave the other 29 jobs to those with the hunger for the job rather than the job title. Hey, the Rangers will probably be hiring a GM soon.