We know who the prime candidates are for the Rangers' vacant head coaching position. Alain Vigneault, Lindy Ruff, Dallas Eakins are at the top of the list and, if certain unfortunate dominos fall into place, Dan Bylsma could be following his team's playoff ouster at the hands of the Boston Bruins.
One name that's barely getting a sniff is former Lightning bench boss Guy Boucher. The same Guy Boucher who, in his first season as head coach, took Tampa Bay to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals and lost — to the Bruins, ironically. The same coach whose team went 7-16-1 before getting the ax March 24 this season, prompting Lightning GM Steve Yzerman to assert 'philosophical differences' arose and a change was needed.
Whether he got a bad wrap (and judging from lack of goaltending and defense in Tampa during his tenure, he did) or the blame is solely his, Guy Boucher deserves another shot in the NHL.
Why not with the New York Rangers?
In New York, Boucher would have the No. 1 goalie, young defense and the skaters necessary to play his style of hockey to be successful. His infamous 1-3-1 forecheck, the very formation that gave the Flyers fits in the past, could be a nice wrinkle with forwards like Carl Hagelin at his disposal. Boucher also demands solid two-way play from his forwards — Derek Stepan sounds like just the player to lead the charge in that vein.
The biggest change would be Boucher's approach. He's a players coach (the anti-Torts the team apparently covets at the moment) and relies on communication with his players. His youthful exuberance and energy might be the shot in the arm the team needs after a disappointing season.
Pundits have said Glen Sather is targeting a coach to maximize the talent over the next 1-2 years, which leads everyone to a name like Vigneault, rightfully so. He's gotten to within a game of winning a Stanley Cup and has had accomplished regular seasons. Experts have also claimed New York doesn't want a coach that will grow with the team, hinting the next coach is just a short-term solution.
Guy Boucher would satisfy both.
At 41, Boucher is much younger than some of the ideal candidates yet boasts an exceptional 17-year coaching career. Rising up the ranks from 1996-97 with the McGill Redman as an assistant, Boucher has two President's Cups and two Memorial Cup appearances in the QMJHL as an assistant and head coach. He led the Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL) in 2009 to a 52-17-11 record in his first season as head coach (also won Coach of the Year). Boucher's record in his first season as NHL coach was 46-25-11, including the aforementioned Eastern Conference finals run.
Sounds like maximizing talent from the outset if you ask me.
What it will come down to is if Sather believes Boucher can get the job done and if certain top players (Henrik Lundqvist) would respond positively to this type of coaching move. The team's championship 'window' could close as early as the 2014 offseason depending on certain personnel decisions. The Rangers, essentially, are looking to hit a home run next season.
Guy Boucher could be the homerun hitter New York needs behind the bench.
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