Fresh off the decision to hire Alain Vigneault as head coach, Rangers legend Mark Messier has left the organization to assist in the development of the Kingsbridge Armory Ice Rink in the Bronx. Messier issued a statement to the media:
“I would like to thank the New York Rangers and particularly Glen Sather for giving me the opportunity over the last four years to work with the Rangers. I am resigning my position with the Team to pursue an opportunity to expand the game of hockey in the New York area by developing the Kingsbridge National Ice Center. Although some will perceive this as a reaction to the coaching decision, nothing could be further from the truth. I completely respect the decision that was made and for all the reasons it was made. I harbor no hard feelings toward Glen or the Rangers. This is a personal choice I am making to create a program in the New York area that will give our children more choices and opportunities in the future. I wish the Rangers nothing but the best in the future.“
It is a shame to see Messier leave the organization, but it is tough to believe he wasn’t stung by the decision to go with AV over himself as the coach. Messier is still in New York though, and unlike in 1997, it appears there are no hard feelings. The Kingsbridge project is a great project and it will need someone like Messier to help with youth hockey in New York. Kudos to Mess for getting involved in a project like this.