Late this week we learnt that Mark Messier, another former Oiler great who has fond memories in a Rangers’ uniform has also expressed interest in the job and he may have the inside track given his assistant GM status that has him alongside Glen Sather.
We also learnt that Doug Weight, yet another former Oiler could also be a potential candidate that the Rangers would consider to replace the fired John Tortorella. Weight was originally a Ranger before being traded to Edmonton as part of the Esa Tikkanen deal.
So here we are with three former Oilers leading the pack of potential candidates to possibly coach their one-time former team. While Messier may have Sather’s ear, it’s hard to ignore the power that the greatest player to ever play the game has. And if he expresses interest in becoming your team’s next head coach, you had better at least listen to what he has to say.
But Gretzky’s coaching career hasn’t been nearly as impressive as his on-ice career. He spent four seasons behind the bench of the Phoenix Coyotes from 2005-09 when he had an ownership stake in the club. His four seasons were less than successful, finishing no higher than fifth in the Pacific division and posting only one winning season. His overall coaching record sits at 143-161-24 which begs the question if he’s the right guy to lead a group of Rangers who are in need of an identity.
Much has been made about Messier’s leadership qualities and it’s hard to forget what he did during his time in Edmonton as an Oiler. The NHL has honored Messier’s ability to influence others by creating the Mark Messier Leadership Award.
All Gretzky did was re-write the history books and most of his records still stand to this day. The Great One does have coaching experience at the NHL level, albeit not exactly a resume that jumps off the page at you. Messier has none which could factor into Sather’s decision.
Regardless of who gets the job, these former Oilers are again becoming active in the NHL and it’s unfortunate they aren’t with the club that helped define their careers. Maybe someday we’ll see both Messier and Gretzky behind the Oilers bench.