One week after the New York Rangers chose Alain Vigneault as their new head coach over Mark Messier, the Hall of Fame centre says he's leaving the organization.
Messier, who interviewed for the Rangers vacancy after John Tortorella was fired, said he has no ill will toward the team for choosing Vigneault. He also said that didn't factor into his decision to leave.
"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," Messier said in a statement Thursday. "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 harbour no hard feelings toward [general manager] Glen [Sather] or the Rangers."
Messier acted as special assistant to Sather since 2009.
Messier has never coached at the NHL level, but did coach two international tournaments for Hockey Canada in 2010 — the Deutschland Cup, where Canada placed third, and the Spengler Cup, where Canada finished second.
Messier has won six Stanley Cups as a player, the last as captain of the Rangers in the 1993-94 season.
In a statement issued by the Rangers, Sather offered well-wishes to his former player and assistant.
"Mark Messier will always be a part of the New York Rangers family," Sather said. "As a player and then as part of the management team, he brought incomparable passion and dedication to the organization. We wish him well in his future endeavours."