Report: If Rangers hire Messier, Leetch would join coaching staff


If the Rangers decide to reach back into their history and hire Mark Messier as head coach, his staff will also harken back to the golden years.

According to a source of the New York Post’s Larry Brooks, legendary Blueshirts defenseman Brian Leetch is set to join the coaching staff should Messier get the gig.

Leetch, 45, teamed with Messier to win the last Stanley Cup in Rangers history, in 1994. The American blueliner captured the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP that year and had his No. 2 raised to the MSG rafters in 2008.

Here’s more on the coaching situation, from Brooks:

Sources from the Boston area where Brian Leetch makes his home told The Post the Hall of Fame defenseman would likely join the Rangers’ coaching staff as an assistant if Messier is hired.

The Blueshirts would need to hire a technocrat with meaningful NHL coaching experience to complement Messier and Leetch should Sather opt to go in that direction, one that would seem a far riskier one than hiring [former Canucks head coach Alain] Vigneault.

The major issue with the hires is coaching experience.

Messier doesn’t have much — he was behind the bench for Team Canada’s entries in the 2010 Spengler and Deutschland Cup — and Leetch has even less.

He’s done some TV work with MSG and, even though Brooks championed Leetch as the “perfect guy” to coach the Rangers’ PP in 2012, his only post-retirement coaching duties have been with his kids’ teams.

That said, he did express an interest in getting back into the NHL (from a 2010 interview with the New York Times):

LEETCH: At some point, I would like to get back involved in hockey. I would be interested in just about every aspect within an organization — coaching, management, player development — if the situation was right.

By that I mean, if I felt like I was working again within a team atmosphere, where our goals were the same and our beliefs in how to achieve them were similar.

It’s believed Vigneault is the front-runner for the Rangers’ job, after he reportedly “impressed” Rangers GM Glen Sather during his interview.

Report: Islanders cut first-rounder Barzal from camp

Mathew Barzal
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It seems Mathew Barzal has played in his last game in a New York Islanders’ uniform for a little while.

Barzal took part in the Islanders’ preseason finale against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, but after that contest the Islanders decided to return him to WHL Seattle, per Newsday’s Arthur Staple.

He was taken with the 16th overall pick in 2015 NHL Entry Draft. That selection was well-traveled as it originally belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was involved in the David Perron trade and then moved to the Islanders as part of Edmonton’s deal to get Griffin Reinhart.

Barzal is noteworthy for his skill and speed, but he may have slipped in the draft due to a knee injury he sustained during the 2014-15 campaign.

The Islanders also reassigned Kirill Petrov, Kevin Czuczman, Scott Mayfield, and Adam Pelech to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Torres offered in-person hearing, potentially setting up long suspension

Torres hit

What will Raffi Torres get this time?

The 33-year-old forward that has become known primarily for his controversial hits has once again put himself in the sights of the NHL’s Department of Players Safety. They confirmed that he was offered an in-person hearing following his hit on Jakub Silfverberg Saturday night. He declined the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face, but the offer itself is an important detail because it gives the league the option to suspend him for more than five games.

It certainly seems like the stage is set for a lengthy suspension. While Torres is not considered a repeat offender as his last suspension came more than 18 months ago, the NHL still retains the right to consider his history when deciding on this matter.

Among other incidents, he was once was banned from 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa in 2012, although it was later reduced to 21 contests after an appeal. The NHL found that Torres was guilty of breaking three rules for that hit; namely interference, charging, and illegally hitting the head. The NHL is reviewing Torres’ latest incident for the same three violations.

You can see the hit below:

And here it is slowed down:

Torres got a match penalty and Silfverberg left the game. Fortunately, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said that Silfverberg could have returned, but was kept out for precautionary reasons.