Could there be a coast-to-coast NHL coach exchange? You can’t rule it out.
Vancouver’s former bench boss Alain Vigneault was in California today being interviewed by Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather and other Blueshirt brass, and Canucks general manager Mike Gillis is having discussions with John Tortorella about succeeding Vigneault.
The clubs may be seeking a different personality and approach, and Vigneault and Tortorella, each with extensive experience, conduct themselves differently.
The Rangers targeted the 52-year-old Vigneault early, seeking permission to speak with him soon after dismissing Tortorella. The Quebec City native left Vancouver with a 313-170-57 record and six division titles in seven years and a Game 7 loss in the 2011 Stanley Cup finals.
The Canucks were 26-15-7 during the shortened season, and finished third in the West, but were eliminated in the first round by the Sharks, and Vigneault was fired on May 22.
The Rangers, who sent questionnaires to a number of candidates, including Dallas Eakins, who was hired by Edmonton two days ago, also have received permission to speak with former Sabres coach Lindy Ruff, and Mark Messier, Sather’s special assistant for the past four years, also has expressed interest in the job.
If Penguins head coach Dan Byslma becomes available, he would be a top candidate for both the Rangers and Canucks, and Pittsburgh would be a prime destination for several job-seekers.
Tortorella, who was hired in February 2009, is just one of the candidates in Vancouver, who also were interested in Eakins. The Canucks have already spoken to former Dallas Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan; Ruff and ex-Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher also may be under consideration.
And with the Los Angeles Kings ousted, assistant coach John Stevens could be available.