Super Mario Lemieux is not happy, of course, because his Pittsburgh Penguins, favorites in the East to win the Stanley Cup, got their clocks cleaned in four straight by a very, very, very good Boston team. And so coach Dan Bylsma is probably going to soon be available, deservedly or not.
He’s going to be available because his goalies sure put the Penguins in a deep hole early in the series (though Tomas Vokoun surely can’t be blamed for the last two games, could he?), and because some of his top players played awfully (Christopher Letang, fraud Norris finalist) and because there was some lack of discipline and sticking with the system.
He’s going to be available because the ownership led by Lemieux, and GM Ray Shero, went out and made a ton of moves before the trade deadline to make the Penguins the 2009 Yankees, prohibitive favorites to win the Stanley Cup. And somebody other than the owner and the GM is going to take the fall. Stupid as that is, that’s how sports works. And it is stupid.
But that’s great news for the Rangers, who have been slow to choose their next coach, and certainly got slower thinking Bylsma might be available.
Because, if the Rangers are really going to buck the trend – they were headed in 2011-12 toward being exactly what Boston is in 2013, and now all of a sudden they want to be the anti-Bruins – and if they are really looking for the anti-Torts, then Bylsma is probably their guy. Bylsma has the opposite personality of John Tortorella, a soft-spoken guy who actually pauses and thinks about the question before he answers, and a guy who — outwardly at least — appears to be much more of a back-patter than a hammer-wielder.
That said, I don’t know where the Rangers are headed because Mark Messier does want the job, and since he does, I’m hard pressed to believe that Glen Sather, who knows Messier for, what, 34-35 years, is not going to give it to him. Sather and Messier obviously have a tremendous relationship, with admiration and loyalty the key words. I can’t imagine Sather wouldn’t hire Messier.
Speaking of which, forget about Wayne Gretzky. He is not really interested in the job. So count him out.
Also count out, probably, Lindy Ruff. Too much like John Tortorella in style and system, if not personality.
Alain Vigneault, who reportedly has yet to be interviewed by the Rangers despite having arguably the best credentials of the group, would probably be Messier’s top competition for the job unless, and now until, Bylsma comes available.
And Bylsma, who plays the up-tempo style Sather craves, is going to be on the lists of a lot of teams who need coaches, and some who don’t.
The Rangers will have organizational meetings in LaQuinta, Calif., this week. At that time, Bylsma’s name is going to be spoken early and often.
AP photo, above.