He was fired by the Vancouver Canucks after seven seasons and six playoff appearances, including a Stanley Cup Final Game 7 loss in 2011 to the Boston Bruins.
He replaces John Tortorella, another head coach fired for playoff disappointment who, as fate would have it, might swap jobs with Vigneault and take over the Canucks.
According to Katie Strang of ESPN, the Rangers interviewed Vigneault and former star Mark Messier for the head coaching spot but opted for Vigneault. He was given a lucrative offer to join the Rangers, big enough where he withdrew his name from candidacy for the Dallas Stars’ vacancy.
What does Vigneault bring to the Rangers that Tortorella did not?
Vigneault is a players’ coach of a different sort. He’s not the firebrand that Tortorella is, nor does his system seem geared toward shaping the team’s play in his own stubborn image.
He’s a coach that allows his players to find success without micromanagement, and fancied himself a “monitor” as much as a coach. Vigneault empowered the players in Vancouver to be the leaders on the team, which had its virtues and drawbacks according to the Vancouver Sun:
The group includes Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows, Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis, and amid this environment the Canucks won back-to-back Presidents’ Trophies and nearly a Stanley Cup.
But this leadership model also detached Vigneault from players. He once explained that, under other circumstances, he probably would really like infuriating defenceman Shane O’Brien on a personal level, but as a coach he had to maintain his distance.
Vigneault maintained that buffer with all his players so when he crossed the hallway from his office to the dressing room at Rogers Arena in order to reprimand a player, no one should take it personally.
He’s known as a coach that gets more out of his roster than another coach might, which probably appealed to GM Glen Sather – Tortorella’s teams, outside of 2011-12, underachieved rather than overwhelmed.
He’s a winner, and a coach that is going to command respect in the room for a veteran team that still has a window for the Cup. Unlike the other candidate for the gig, he also has NHL coaching experience to back up that confidence.