Eakins Ready for Leap to NHL; Vigneault A Good Fit for Rangers

Lindy Ruff and Dave Tippett are looking less and less like legit options, Wayne Gretzky says it's "very unlikely" he ends up being the guy and I'm still not convinced that Mark Messier is anything more than a Fanatasy Land candidate for the Rangers head coaching position.

So let's take a look at the two guys who seem to have the most legitimate chance of being behind the Rangers bench this fall: Dallas Eakins and Alain Vigneault.

Here's Chris Johnson at Sportsnet on Maple Leafs AHL affiliate head coach Eakins…

The steady stream of players who have arrived at the Leafs doorstep ready to contribute has spoken volumes about the work being done at the AHL level. (Maple Leafs vice-president of hockey operations Dave Poulin) and other members of Leafs management have also had some veterans make a point of pulling them aside to give Eakins a vote of confidence.

“He communicates well with the players, he communicates well with us,” said Poulin. “He’s won and I think that helps. He hasn’t won the ultimate prize, but he’s won (a lot of games). The teams have gotten better and the players have gotten better.”

…while there's a ton of scrutiny coaching within the Maple Leafs organization, it's not even in the same universe as being the head man in New York. So I do have some trepidation about Eakins taking over a team, despite the disappointing year, that will have high expectations for the 2013-14 season.

…conversely, I do like the idea of having a fresh young face leading this team. You know he'll be motivated to prove that he belongs in the NHL and his youthful enthusiasm could be infectious.

Meanwhile, Jesse Spector at the Sporting News feels that the former Canucks coach Vigneault would be a nice fit for the Rangers…

"The better move for New York would be to bring in Alain Vigneault, especially if the former Vancouver Canucks coach applies some of the Northwest Division giants' zone-matching principles. By maximizing the offensive opportunities for Nash and Stepan, and by using Boyle in the mold of Manny Malhotra (which is something Tortorella occasionally did, and it was where Boyle was at his best), the Rangers would be able to get the most out of a hybrid roster by accentuating their strengths and minimizing their weaknesses.

How good of a fit is Vigneault? He already has gotten to the Stanley Cup Finals with a star American two-way forward named Ryan (Kesler; he'd have Callahan in New York) and an Olympic gold medal-winning goaltender whose last name starts "Lu" (Luongo/Lundqvist)."

…i know Vigneault seems to be the favorite among Rangers fans, but let me throw some cold water on him. In his 11 years as a head coach in the NHL, Vigneault has guided a team past the second round ONCE. That's right, the Canucks run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011 is the only time a Vigneault led team has advanced beyond the Conference Semi-Finals round. The Canucks finished first in the Pacific Division in six of the seven years Vigneault was behind the bench and was bounced in the first or second round in five of those years. Once as the #1 seed.

…while regular season success is nice, Vigneault has yet to prove he has what it takes to translate that into postseason glory and right now, the Rangers are in Cup or bust mode with anything less unacceptable. Just ask John Tortorella.

For more on Vigneault, check out this great piece at Canucks Army on his pros and cons.

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Kevin

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