What's the next step for Mark Messier?

Mark Messier of the Rangers works on the

Mark Messier of the Rangers works on the draft floor during the 2010 NHL Entry Draft at Staples Center. (June 25, 2010) (Credit: Getty Images)

The Alain Vigneault Era with the Rangers begins Friday, but could anothers stay on Broadway be drawing to a close again?

Vigneault, the former Canucks head coach, will meet the press and take the helm, with the backing of President and General Manager Glen Sather.

Sather tapped the 52-year-old Vigneault over Mark Messier, who has served as his special assistant for almost four years, and dearly wanted to be the 34th head coach.

The apprenticeship, of course, followed two previous stints at Madison Square Garden, where his No. 11 hangs from the rafters.

The Captain’s first visit, from 1991 to 1997, was highlighted by his skills and leadership in the 1993-94 season, which brought the Stanley Cup to New York for the first time in 54 years.

The second, after three years in Vancouver, from 2000 to 2004, was not as successful, and Messier retired. But he returned -- thanks to Sather, who gave him his first job as a center for the Edmonton Oilers in 1979 -- to the front office in August 2009.

However, the future for Messier, also 52, appears uncertain. Sather, 69, has given no indication of stepping down. And if he eventually decides to relinquish one role, that of GM, there are two assistant general managers in the wings: Jeff Gorton, a former assistant GM with the Bruins who has been in the same job here since 2011, and previously was assistant director of personnel, and Jim Schoenfeld, who also oversees the Hartford Wolf Pack.

So Messier would be the third man in, so to speak, if he even is being considered for the post; his presence as either an assistant GM or an assistant coach, could be awkward for both Vigneault and Messier.

What we do know is that Messier, who did not return a call for comment, is “very disappointed”, as Sather told the Post, and thinking about his next step. Messier did not interview for either of the two other openings, in Dallas and Vancouver, but the NHL coaching carousel spins every year, and sometimes during the season.

It is unclear whether Sather offered Messier, who has only coached in two international tournaments, any options, such as coaching the Wolf Pack, or whether Messier wants them.

He could very well bide his time and continue in his current job, perhaps with added responsibilities, such as a pro scouting role, which would get him out on the road, and enable him to learn more about other teams’ personnel. It would also make him more visible to teams who might be looking for an assistant GM, or for some help behind the bench.

We may know more tomorrow, when Sather will be at the unveiling.

Tags: Mark Messier , Gle Sather , Alain Vigneault

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