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Report: Gretzky, Messier both interested in Rangers’ job

May 31, 2013, 6:17 PM EDT

GRETZKY MESSIER

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.

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  1. pirovash88 - May 31, 2013 at 6:32 PM

    Gretzky was a great player, as a Kings fan i respect the guy, but he’s not nearly as good as a coach. Didn’t work out with the Coyotes, i doubt it’ll work with the Rangers.

    • witchrunner - Jun 1, 2013 at 1:52 AM

      Not his fault, they didn’t have the talent or money to pay for talent. But, between the two, I’d take Messier. He’s already got connections to the Rangers and why slap him unless it is with an obvious proven coach.

      • serbvet1 - Jun 1, 2013 at 2:35 PM

        Gretzy was an awful coach. He had more money (and talent) than the Yotes have had in the past 4 years under Maloney and Tippett with much less success. The Ranger would be crazy to even consider him.

        Great player, horrible coach.

    • stachowiakjp - Jun 1, 2013 at 9:47 AM

      I think he’ll be a great coach for the Rangers. He does have coaching experience, so if anything that would help him this time. Unlike the Coyotes, he has great players, a awesome goaltender, and a determined captain. Although he did have Shane Doan. Well anyway, this time he won’t have to worry about the front office. I’m all for the return of Coach Great One. Also so that Dallas can hire Lindy Ruff. Go Stars!

    • lindjd - Jun 2, 2013 at 9:04 AM

      I think Messier would do a great job with the Rangers. He was a no nonsense hard worker during his playing days and I can not believe he would be any different as a person and coach.

  2. sjsharks66 - May 31, 2013 at 6:33 PM

    I hope wayne wears his turtle neck behind the bench.

  3. pimares - May 31, 2013 at 6:33 PM

    Gretzky nearly destroyed the yotes, his coaching skills just aren’t there. He is the great one just not for coaching.

    • dannymac17 - May 31, 2013 at 7:23 PM

      this is comparable to Jordan running the bobcats/hornets

  4. billyhauntswizards - May 31, 2013 at 6:36 PM

    no and no.

    • TestSubjekt - Jun 1, 2013 at 2:41 PM

      Since I’m not a Rangers fan I don’t mind those picks. XD

      But seriously, the greatest player ever…who was an awful coach and someone with no NHL coaching experience.

      If Slats hires either of these two, the noose around his neck will be getting snug. When the hire doesn’t work out, it wouldn’t surprise me to see them clean house of all of his friends.

  5. canucks30 - May 31, 2013 at 6:45 PM

    Glen Sather, Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier…

    This isn’t 1987 anymore

    • 19to77 - May 31, 2013 at 7:23 PM

      As long as Slats runs the business side of the Rangers, he’ll continue to treat them like his personal old boys’ club.

  6. stakex - May 31, 2013 at 6:57 PM

    I think Messier is hanging around the Rangers because hes going to replace Sather when he leaves (and he’ll have to retire at this point), and that seems to be where the Rangers want him. I also doubt they would let him coach the team with no experience.

    Gretzky is a bit more interesting. Sure things didn’t go great with the Coyotes… but lets be honest, he didn’t have a very good team to work with. Not to mention I think its a terrible idea to be the coach AND owner at the same time. Puts a lot of extra presure on everyone. So perhaps thing would be different with the Rangers.

    With that said, if Sather was serious about anything less then a Cup being a disapointment… you would have to think hes going to go with a veteran coach with a good record. Going with a guy whos never made the playoffs as a coach, even if his name is Gretzky, would seem an odd choice if you expect to win the Cup next year.

    • gospitfires - May 31, 2013 at 7:12 PM

      Wayne stepped down on September 24, 2009 after 4 straight non playoff seasons, only one of which he was over .500

      Dave Tippet took over the exact same roster Wayne had, immediately made the playoffs that season despite a shortened training camp due to taking the team over late into camp. the next season was also a playoff season, followed by a western conference finals appearance. There is/was talent on that roster at that time. Wayne is a the best player of all time, but is not a good coach.

  7. johnstone17 - May 31, 2013 at 7:18 PM

    I love both of them as players. It’s just very rare that super star players develop in to good head coaches. I don’t think either would be the best choice.

  8. teaspoon1731 - May 31, 2013 at 7:37 PM

    For the sake of sounding like a stupid little girl fan….

    I know Messier has no coaching experience. I know he’s great in the office, and that’s probably a better spot for him. But how he was as a player, how he lead his teams, I wouldn’t be upset if they gave him a nod. I really wouldn’t. Is it the best option available? Definitely not. But I’d be ok with it happening.

    • vanindeed - Jun 1, 2013 at 1:32 PM

      Didn’t he “lead” his teams through 7 non playoff seasons?

      • jaybyrd99 - Jun 1, 2013 at 5:10 PM

        That’s the interesting thing about Messier. He missed the playoffs as captain(8 times,including his final 7 seasons) as much as he made them as a captain !

  9. thailer35 - May 31, 2013 at 7:39 PM

    The “great one” ruined the Yotes. He ruined them financially, their reputation, everything. The team would be in a golden era by now if it weren’t for him.

    Que thumbs down.

  10. steelers88 - May 31, 2013 at 8:55 PM

    If I were the Rangers I would Messier over Gretzky. Messier won the Rangers a cup not Gretzky.

    • don444 - Jun 1, 2013 at 1:15 AM

      THAT’S your sole reasoning? Oh well, everything is simpler when you’re shallow I suppose.

  11. govtminion - May 31, 2013 at 9:07 PM

    Gretzky, no. Messier… I’d give 110% just out of sheer terror of disappointing Coach Messier. Scary idea.

  12. alwaysgame7 - May 31, 2013 at 9:52 PM

    Just a thought but winning a cup doesn’t mean your automatically a great coach… I’d say no to either if I was the rangers and get somebody who has some success at coaching in the NHl on their résumé

  13. pensfan1313 - May 31, 2013 at 10:00 PM

    Gretzky? What he used to do? It was natural to him, a complete gift. His on-ice awareness was phenomenal. But how do you expect him to impart that on others? He thinks they should just “get it” like he did, and it just doesn’t work that way.

  14. Habib Marwan - May 31, 2013 at 10:20 PM

    stop… neither one of these guys are getting the job…. it’s silly to even consider it

  15. jaybyrd99 - May 31, 2013 at 11:21 PM

    No to both . Great players rarely translate into winning coaches . Loved them both as players but don’t want either of them near the rangers bench.

  16. DED - May 31, 2013 at 11:37 PM

    I’m not disagreeing with the naysayers about either Gretzky or Mess as coaches for the Rangers. I just wanted to point out that with only 2 years as an assistant coach in the AHL and 1 year as the head coach of an AHL team (3 separate teams no less), Dan Bylsma was given the reins to the Penguins. That was in mid-February of 2009, the year the Penguins won the Cup. Now you can argue that he was given a Ferrari (and the Rangers are maybe just a sporty sedan) and that his limited AHL experience was enough to run that team. Maybe he was just a natural. Maybe Mess would be too. I don’t know. I’m just throwing it out there.

    • jaybyrd99 - Jun 1, 2013 at 5:33 AM

      But bylsma wasn’t a legend or even a good NHL player . Sometimes, no,most times, those are the guys that end up being good coaches.
      In any sport there are maybe a handful of superstars that translated to being great. Then again it’s sather so who knows what he’ll do . He’s the guy who hired bryan trottier and we all know what a disaster that was.

  17. don444 - Jun 1, 2013 at 1:00 AM

    Neither one of these legends is the right choice to take the Rangers helm at this point, but yeah, this is speculation that will have hockey fans everywhere predictably intrigued and hopeful.

  18. sabatimus - Jun 1, 2013 at 2:11 AM

    Ruff’s getting this. Period.

  19. sasattack - Jun 1, 2013 at 10:19 AM

    My question is what did Janet Jones due to her face? Looks like at least 1 too many surgeries.

    • don444 - Jun 6, 2013 at 4:19 AM

      What’s your point? If you were the aging wife of the greatest hockey player of all time you’d also likely be seeking out plastic surgery.

  20. vanindeed - Jun 1, 2013 at 1:33 PM

    This is AV’s job to lose

  21. proudliberal85392 - Jun 1, 2013 at 3:11 PM

    As a Coyotes season ticket holder, I watched the team coached by Gretzky for 4 years. He was, without a doubt, one of the best players ever. As a coach? Not so much.

  22. vanindeed - Jun 1, 2013 at 7:49 PM

    Bringing back the guys from the glory years is a great plan. Just look at Edmonton.

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