A pair of pretty famous ex-Rangers are reportedly interested in the vacant head coaching job.
According to Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos, both Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier are “intrigued” by the Rangers’ gig, which became available after John Tortorella was fired on Wednesday.
“I hear both of them are interested,” Kypreos said. “That, to me, is the biggest story of them all — that they haven’t shoo-shooed this at all.
“You look at where both guys — Gretzky and Messier — are in their lives right now, and for them at this point to say they’re intrigued by it and wouldn’t dismiss the idea tells you volumes about how they view the position as head coach of the New York Rangers.”
It’s unclear how interested the Rangers are in either candidate.
Messier has no NHL head coaching experience, though he did coach Team Canada to third at the 2010 Deutschland Cup and 2nd at the Spengler Cup.
He’s also very active in the Rangers’ front office, currently serving as an “special assistant” to president and GM Glen Sather.
Gretzky spent four seasons coaching the Phoenix Coyotes — from 2005-09, failing to make the playoffs in any of the four seasons and only once finishing with a winning percentage above .500.
“The Great One” also had an ownership stake in the Coyotes and formerly served as the club’s head of hockey operations.
Gretzky and Messier spent one year playing together in New York from 1996-97, reaching the Eastern Conference finals before losing to the Philadelphia Flyers.
Messier, of course, captained New York to its last Stanley Cup championship (in 1994) and remains one of the most iconic players in franchise history.
It’s been reported that Sather first approached Messier in 2002 about coaching the Rangers — Messier was still playing at the time, and retired after 2003-04 — and that the Oilers approached Messier after firing Tom Renney last season, but Messier opted to stay in New York.
As for Gretzky, he’s been mostly out of the game since leaving the Coyotes, though his name did surface during MLSE’s search for president of the Toronto Maple Leafs.