Over the last decade the New York Rangers have had three different head coaches man the team’s bench on Broadway (Tom Renney, John Tortorella & Alain Vigneault), and all of whom had success leading the Rangers to numerous Stanley Cup Playoff appearances. However, New York only reached the Stanley Cup Finals (2014) once during that span — and was unable to bring Lord Stanley back to the Big Apple for the first time since 1994.
Since the Rangers recently relieved Vigneault of his coaching duties, it’s now time for the Broadway Blueshirts to name a new head coach for a Rangers squad that enters a transition and rebuilding era. While the 2017-18 season hasn’t come to an official close yet, there are still coaching candidates available on the market for New York to consider. One potential candidate could be a former nemesis of the Rangers, Scott Stevens.
The former three-time Stanley Cup champion (1995, 2000 & 2003) with the New Jersey Devils terrorized the Rangers on the ice during his 13-year tenure with New Jersey (1991-2004), and for over a decade New York probably wished it had the hard-hitting defenseman on the Rangers’ side.
New York now has the opportunity to bring Stevens to the other side of the Hudson River, and help establish a new culture as the Rangers’ newest voice behind the bench.
The former Conn Smythe Trophy winner (2000) already has four years of experience as an NHL assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils (2012-15), and Minnesota Wild in 2016-17.
No, the all-time great players don’t always make for the best coaches in the NHL – but perhaps the time is right for Stevens to take that next step forward and become a head coach. Keep in mind that there’s no doubting the 2007 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee would benefit New York’s young group of defensemen, which is a key aspect for a team that’s primary focus is developing young skaters.
Earlier this month Stevens sat in on an edition of the NHL Network’s Round Table series, when the idea of Stevens coaching the Rangers was mentioned. The former Devils’ captain didn’t seem disinterested in the notion, and also seemed to have a good grasp on what the future could hold for the Blueshirts moving forward with a new coach.
A true competitor such as Stevens would more than likely be open to the idea and challenge of joining New Jersey’s biggest rival, especially since he was let go by the Devils after Lou Lamoriello’s departure from Jersey’s Team back in 2015.
What’s the worst that can happen if Stevens were given the chance to grow and develop as a head coach with a team that’s in a transition phase, anyway? Stevens could at least be an inaugural part to steering the ship back in the right direction at Madison Square Garden and having a lasting impact on the team’s younger skaters.
Let’s face it – one of the biggest markets in the NHL hasn’t won a Stanley Cup in over 20-years…and the Rangers should consider hiring a former foe to change that matter.
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