While Mark Messier has revealed he has already interviewed for the Rangers head coaching job, the likelihood all points to Alain Vigneault being awarded the job. In all honesty this would be not only the less risky option, but the right option. First time coaches rarely succeed in major markets such as New York, even if you’re a Mark Messier type character, but especially when you have little to no coaching experience.
That said, could Messier be an option for the Rangers long term? Absolutely. The Rangers could look at an alternative plan. The potential is there for Messier to be an assistant coach. He could learn the coaching side of the game while the incoming head coach could benefit from the leadership, demanding personality, and likely face-off coaching skills Messier could bring. Could Messier be groomed toward a head coaching role? The potential is there.
Of course this has to be off set against whether a new coach would prefer to bring their own people in or not, and whether Messier would be a distraction to the new Head Coach. Having a Mark Messier in your corner can be a looming threat as well as a potential advantage. However, the potential benefits for the Rangers (of including Messier) are tempting whether it’s likely or not.
Having Messier around the players on a daily basis –even in a lesser capacity– would allow for his character to rub off on others. His demanding approach, his experience, and his aura would all surely have an impact on the roster. Messier could work with the centers and develop their skill sets. Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard would surely benefit from one to one time with Mark Messier. Messier’s presence on a daily level would surely invigorate the New York market and make the Rangers front page news. His involvement would add a sub plot to the quest for the Cup, and Messier’s motivation to even further instill his place in Rangers history – this time as a coach – would provide a real hunger for success.
In the past we have discussed the need for the Rangers to draw from former players such as Brian Leetch to help under performing aspects such as the powerplay, and having Messier on board could provide a similar tonic. The assistant coaching spots could do with fresh impetus, and who better than the captain to provide it? He’d guarantee you success wouldn’t he?