Flashback: The Rangers 2002 Coaching Search (NY Post Edition)

The Rangers hired Brian Trottier in June 2002 to follow Ron Low and lead the Rangers in a new direction.

Trottier however was not the Glen Sather’s first choice to succeed Low.

This is a search through the NY Post to follow the Rangers journey from Low to Trottier.

CLICK HERE to see the Rangers 2002 coaching search through the archives of the Daily News.


April 13, 2002: Larry Brooks, who has previously endorsed Herb Brooks to become the next coach of the Rangers, thinks that it is time for Mark Messier to step off the ice and step behind the bench.

“He can be a huge asset – from behind the bench, leading from outside the locker room, getting more from Brian Leetch than anyone since Mike Keenan.”

April 15, 2002: Brooks writes that Hitchcock is not the guy for the Rangers and that hiring him would have an negative impact on the Rangers pursuit of Bill Guerin, Chris Chelios and Bobby Holik.

He notes that Guy Carbonneau is very highly regarded by Sather and a possible choice.

April 16, 2002: The Rangers have received permission from Dallas to talk to Hitchcock. Guy Carbonneau is a candidate but likely to return to Dallas and could become their head coach.

Herb Brooks is interested in becoming coach, John Paddock, “who does nothing but win and earn rave reviews in Hartford” is a candidate as is Tom Renney if he wants to be. Brooks thinks that Jim Schoenfeld should get a look as head coach and so should Russian legend Slava Fetisov.

In addition, there is another assistant Sather should talk to before doing anything hasty, like hiring Hitchcock. One other assistant with a winning pedigree who merits serious consideration. Six Cups as a player, one as an assistant – does the name Bryan Trottier ring a bell?

April 16, 2002: Jay Greenberg writes that Ted Nolan should get a chance to interview with Sather, along with Herb Brooks and John Paddock.

April 20, 2002: Hitchcock has met with the Rangers and is going to again, but Brooks writes “Though the public perception is that the former Dallas coach is the favorite to succeed Ron Low, sources have told The Post that Hitchcock actually is a long shot for the job.”

Herb Brooks has also accepted Glen Sather’s invitation to meet and he is “excited about the opportunity to return to Broadway 16 years after the close of his Act 1 behind the Rangers bench.”

April 21, 2002: Mike Keenan has been denied permission to interview for the Rangers job but Glen Sather has interest in former Devils assistant Slava Fetisov. Fetisov may take a high ranking position in Russia to run all of their sports programs.

April 23, 2002: Keenan told Glen Sather that he is very interested in returning to coach the Rangers and told Sather that he had an “out-clause” in his contract. Sather then told Keenan that he needed to obtain permission from the Panthers.

April 24, 2002: The NHL will not file tampering charges against Keenan and the Rangers.

April 30, 2002: The Rangers have asked permission from the Devils to interview Larry Robinson who told the Post he would be “stupid not to listen.” The paper also notes that Sather is not planning to change his strategy for finding a new coach and plans to speak with Dave Tippett and Guy Carbonneau who are both still in the playoffs. The Flyers have emerged as suitors for Hitchcock.

May 1, 2002: Robinson is given permission to interview with the Rangers but notes that he isn’t sure it’s the right job for him.

May 2, 2002: Brooks fully endorses Larry Robinson to become the next head coach of the Rangers and cites the impact that he had on Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer in New Jersey.

Imagine the impact Robinson would have on Brian Leetch, who desperately needs someone or something to reinvigorate a career that has been diminished by the last five seasons. Could there be anyone better to work with Tom Poti, an extremely smooth lad who can’t possibly survive in the NHL playing so soft as he did last season? Wouldn’t it be to everyone’s best interests to have Robinson teaching Dale Purinton something about the game?

May 7, 2002: Herb Brooks is still on the Sather’s coaching wish list and Sather was impressed with Brooks’ ideas and theories about the game. Jim Schoenfeld has not inquired about the job but Barry Melrose has. John Paddock is not being looked at as a serious candidate.

May 9, 2002: Hitchcock is off the Rangers list and is now the top choice in Philly, supplanting Pat Burns. Hitch reportedly had concerns about coaching players like Eric Lindros and Pavel Bure.

Herb Brooks is the leader for the job but Sather still intends to interview Dave Tippett and maybe Bryan Trottier and Guy Carbonneau. Brooks proposed the idea of he and Sather working in Tandem with Brooks running practice and Sather running the bench during the games.

Sather would love the idea of pairing Brooks and Larry Robinson together. Bob Gainey isn’t interested in becoming coach of the Rangers.

May 10, 2002: Larry Robinson has withdrawn his name from the Rangers coaching search as he wants to take the year off from coaching.

Robinson told the Post “What this comes down to for me is that if I’m going to take a job as a head coach, I have to be excited about it, and after everything I went through last season, I’m not really excited about coaching right now.”

Sather plans to speak with Tippett but Herb Brooks may get the offer to become coach of the Rangers by the weekend. Brooks will command a salary of between $1.2 and $1.5 million

Thing is, if there’s an opening again in the near future – unless Brooks, who will turn 65 on Aug. 5, wins the Cup and retires immediately thereafter – it’s likely to be accompanied by an opening in the GM’s office, as well.

May 11, 2002: Sather won’t name a coach until after the team’s organizational meetings where he can talk with Don Maloney, Tom Renney and scout Gilles Leger.

May 14, 2002: Hitchcock is about to become coach of the Flyers and has not had any contact with the Rangers since their first meeting on April 19th. Dave Tippett appears to be a solid alternative choice to Herb Brooks, if Brooks doesn’t want the job. Tippett will also interview in Dallas and was runner up to Jacques Lemaire for the coaching position with the Minnesota Wild in 2000.

May 15, 2002: Sather is seeking permission to speak with Guy Carbonneau and is wondering if he wants a veteran head coach to lead the Rangers or is willing to go with a rookie head coach.

May 16, 2002: Tippett is about to become the coach of the Stars and Brooks writes “is Glen Sather being thorough in his search for a successor to Ron Low, or is he just thoroughly unconvinced that any of the candidates he’s interviewed is capable of handling the job?”

He notes that the candidates appear to be Herb Brooks, Guy Carbonneau (who hasn’t spoken to Sather and may return to Dallas) and no one else.

 If Sather isn’t comfortable enough to have offered Brooks the job by now, will he ever? And if he isn’t convinced by now that Brooks is the right man at the right time – both to coach the team and to help recruit unrestricted free agents – then how in good conscience could he ever offer the miracle worker the job? 

Sather has no interest in Pat Burns or Ron Wilson and may need to try and convince Larry Robinson to reconsider turning the Rangers down.

May 17, 2002: Andrew Marchand speaks with Barry Melrose who says “When Glen hired Ron Low, I thought I had a really good chance of getting the job then. If I wasn’t the right man for the job then, why would I be now?”

May 17, 2002: Brooks writes that Herb Brooks did the Rangers a favor by not taking the Rangers job as it would have done the Rangers no good to end up with Brooks walking out on the team if he stopped being interested or found the job too demanding.

Dave Lewis, when Detroit’s playoff run ends, will likely talk to Sather as will Bryan Trottier. Carbonneau has said he doesn’t think he is ready to be a head coach. Brooks writes that Ron Wilson should be Sather’s top choice now based on his past in Anaheim and how he coached Team USA to the 1996 World Cup.

May 19, 2002: Brooks writes that Ron Wilson should get a call from Sather but that Sather appears to still be holding a grudge against Wilson.

There’s no excuse to eliminate good people for no good reason. Sather hasn’t liked Wilson at all since the wise-alec’s Team USA beat him and Team Canada for the World Cup in 1996. The GM has never been able to put that behind him. It’s time he did. If he thinks that Wilson was arrogant and disrespectful throughout the tournament, Sather should look in the mirror. If he does, he’ll see they were two of a kind.

May 25, 2002: Sather is reportedly thinking of getting back behind the bench and that if he does he would like Mark Messier to be an assistant.

Pavel Bure asked Sather to get behind the bench but Sather’s last full season as head coach was in 1988-89. Dave Lewis and Bryan Trottier remain to be interview but as Brooks writes  Sather “is reluctantly coming to the conclusion that he’s the best man to step behind the bench next season.”

 June 5, 2002: The Post reports “exclusively” that Brian Trottier will become the next head coach of the New York Rangers.

Colorado GM Pierre Lacroix granted Sather permission to speak with Trottier before the playoffs started and then met with him before the Avs and Red Wings series that saw the Avs win. Brooks writes that Washington GM George McPhee tried to interview Trottier for his open position but was told that Trottier was committed to another organization.

Brooks also notes that Lacroix, who fully endorsed Trottier, may have wanted him removed from the coaching staff in Colorado.

June 7, 2002: Jay Greenberg writes that Sather was very impressed with how Trottier hand wrote and answered all of the questions that Sather sent him and adds

General manager Glen Sather, who didn’t want a nag like Ken Hitchcock, who told people he didn’t want the Rangers anyway, desired a coach who wanted to play in the other team’s zone. After Herb Brooks, to whom Sather apparently was prepared to make an offer, got cold feet, and an unprepared Ted Nolan turned off the GM, there was no other obvious choice out there, if there ever was a guy Sather really wanted more.

June 11, 2002: Mike Bossy says that he would be willing to join Bryan Trottier’s coaching staff if his former teammate asked him.