NEW YORK — Alain Vigneault brought a whole lot of experience and success into his interview with New York Rangers general manager Glen Sather.
However, his most appealing attribute might be that he is so different than former coach John Tortorella — on and off the ice.
That was clearly evident Friday when Vigneault was named as the feisty Tortorella’s replacement during a news conference at Radio City Music Hall. In the short window of time in which he met with media members, Vigneault smiled and joked more times than anyone could remember his predecessor doing in 4½ seasons with the Rangers.
Vigneault brings a welcoming demeanor away from the rink and a more offensive philosophy on it — in contrast with Tortorella’s way of working in the defensive zone and putting a premium on blocking shots in front of star goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
That often left many players dealing with multiple ailments.
“We needed a change in style,” Sather said. “You look at the injuries … we needed to move the puck out quick. That style was perfect for a couple of years, but it started to wear our team out.”
Just more than four weeks after he was fired by the Vancouver Canucks, Vigneault already has a job. He edged out former Rangers captain Mark Messier, longtime former Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff and others.
Vigneault was given a five-year deal, and his first day featured his name on the famous marquee outside of Radio City.
“I was thinking about the opportunity to coach the New York Rangers, one of the Original Six teams,” the 52-year-old Vigneault said. “There is not a chance I could pass that up. Honored and privileged I feel.”
In 11 seasons as an NHL head coach with Montreal and Vancouver, Vigneault is 422-288-35-61 in 806 games.
It is unknown if Messier, now a special assistant to Sather, will remain with the Rangers. Messier, a Hall of Fame player, lacks the coaching experience that Vigneault is loaded with.
Tortorella was fired May 29 — four days after the Rangers were eliminated by Boston. A year ago, the Rangers reached the Eastern Conference finals.
In an ironic twist, Tortorella was reportedly offered the job on Friday to replace Vigneault in Vancouver.
Vigneault ranked first on the Canucks’ list in coaching wins and came within one victory of capturing the Stanley Cup in 2011. In seven seasons, Vigneault was 313-170-57 in the regular season but only 33-32 in the playoffs.
His final two seasons ended in disappointment as Vancouver was knocked out in the first round in both years — including a sweep by San Jose last month.
Ruff to pilot Stars
DALLAS — Lindy Ruff is the now the coach of the Dallas Stars, the team that clinched their only Stanley Cup championship on a goal he has always questioned.
Ruff was hired Friday by the Stars, 14 years after he joined thousands of Buffalo fans in the chant of “No goal!” in the aftermath of Brett Hull’s Cup-clinching shot late in the third overtime of Game 6 in the 1999 Stanley Cup final.
“It’s a long time ago,” Ruff said after being introduced. “I’ve had some great memories. I’ve gotten past that. I’m a coach, I want to coach, and this is an unbelievable opportunity.”
That was the Sabres’ only Stanley Cup appearance under Ruff, in his second season as Buffalo’s coach.
Ruff coached 15 seasons for the Buffalo Sabres before being fired in February. He was the NHL’s longest active-serving coach with one team.
Ruff was the first significant hire for Nill, the longtime Detroit Red Wings assistant GM who signed a five-year deal in April to replace the fired Joe Nieuwendyk.
The Stars missed the playoffs for the fifth season in a row, the longest postseason drought in team history. They were 22-22-4 last season, last in the Pacific Division, leading to the dismissal of coach Glen Gulutzan.
Ruff was the Sabres’ winningest coach (571-432-162), but was fired after Buffalo got off to a 6-10-1 in this year’s NHL lockout-shortened season. There had been 170 NHL coaching changes between his hiring in July 1997 and the time he was fired.
Tippett remains with Coyotes
PHOENIX — The Phoenix Coyotes have agreed to a long-term contract extension with coach Dave Tippett.
Tippett had reportedly wanted to wait to see what happens with the uncertain ownership situation before making a decision to stay with the Coyotes.
The Coyotes have gone 156-96-42 in Tippett’s four seasons with the team, despite the fact that the franchise was owned by the NHL and had strict financial restrictions during that time.
In 2011-12, the Coyotes went 42-27-13, won the franchise’s first division title and advanced to the Western Conference finals for the first time in team history.