NEW YORK, N.Y. - Mark Messier is leaving the New York Rangers after being passed over to replace fired head coach John Tortorella.
Messier, who had been a special assistant to Rangers general manager Glen Sather, announced Thursday in a statement that he is resigning in order to "expand the game of hockey in the New York area by developing the Kingsbridge National Ice Center."
However, he added that the Rangers' choice to hire veteran coach Alain Vigneault to be the new head coach wasn't a factor in his departure from the team.
"Although some will perceive this as a reaction to the coaching decision, nothing could be further from the truth," said Messier, who has no NHL coaching experience. "I completely respect the decision that was made and for all the reasons it was made. I harbour no hard feelings toward Glen or the Rangers."