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"Humbling" Night Awaits Both Sather and Vigneault Friday

by Jim Cerny / New York Rangers

VANCOUVER -- Friday will be a significant day in the successful careers of both Rangers president Glen Sather and head coach Alain Vigneault, and both have used the same word for how they feel about their respective upcoming milestones.


That is the word Sather used Wednesday night when speaking with reporters about his former team, the Edmonton Oilers, honoring him with an extensive pre-game ceremony Friday for his years of service as President, General Manager, and Head Coach, a run which included all five of the franchise's Stanley Cup championships.

It is the same word Vigneault has used more than once recently to describe how he feels about coaching his 1,000th game in the National Hockey League Friday when the Rangers face off with the Oilers at Rexall Place.

"Those two guys are very well-respected within the New York Rangers organization and for sure around the league, as well," Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh told following practice Thursday at the University of British Columbia. "We're very fortunate to have both of them in our organization; and their recognition (Friday) is very well deserved."

Sather coached the Oilers in both the WHA and NHL, his tenure running between 1977 and 1989. He guided Edmonton to twelve straight playoff appearances, five Stanley Cup Final appearances and four Cup championships as coach. Sather was also named as the team's general manager in 1980 and under his watch the Oilers won a total of five Stanley Cups.

The amazing roster of Hall of Fame talent Sather coached and managed in Edmonton included the likes of Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier, who both, of course, later went on to play with the Rangers, the same organization for whom Sather has now worked for since June 1, 2000.

"It's almost hard to understand how good those (Oilers) teams were, just so much talent they had at that time," Henrik Lundqvist told "Glen was a big part of that. I've always had a lot of respect for him and all that he's accomplished. I'm just happy for him and glad he's getting this night in Edmonton."

For his part, Sather is rather low key about his upcoming big night, which comes in the final season the Oilers will play in Rexall Place--home to all five of Edmonton's championships--before the team moves into a new downtown building next year.

"I'm not a guy that lives in the past," shared Sather on Wednesday. "What happened last week or 15 years ago is in the past. I like to move on. As soon as I left the Oilers that was it. I'm a New York Ranger. I still respect it and cherish all the memories, but that's in the past."

Speaking of the past, Vigneault has been quite reflective leading up to his milestone 1,000th game coached in the NHL on Friday. He has spoken most fondly of his time with the Rangers--where he is the franchise's all-time leader in points percentage with his teams in New York having posted a 116-61-16 record and .646 points percentage since his Broadway debut in 2013-14--and in Vancouver with the Canucks, a team that "gave me a second chance in this league" six years after he was fired by the Montreal Canadiens 20 games into the 2000-01 season.

Vigneault's career record with Montreal, Vancouver and New York is an impressive 538-349-35-77. He won the Jack Adams Trophy as the league's top coach in 2006-07 and has been a finalist two other times, including last season. Vigneault has guided his teams to three President's Trophies as the NHL's top team in the regular season, including in 2014-15 with the Rangers, and led the Canucks to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final and the Rangers to the Cup final three years later.

"I know that I've been fortunate, very privileged, to be coaching in this league," explained Vigneault. "I don't feel like I've worked a day in my life because I love what I do."

The other day in Vancouver Vigneault recounted with reporters the trying time in his career after his departure from the Canadiens where no team had a job for him, and he ultimately went back to the QMJHL to coach in major junior--desperate to work in the profession he loves while also feeling the necessity "to put food on the table" for his two young daughters at the time.

"When I came back the second time I said I was going to enjoy it more, and I think I have," said Vigneault. "I take my job seriously, but I don't take myself seriously. There's room to grow every day in this business. It's a great business and everyone you meet and everybody you associate yourself with has something you can learn from them."

Of course AV would love nothing more than a victory in his 1,000th game on Friday night, something his players want to give him.

"A thousand games, that's impressive," said Lundqvist. "He's done a great job. It's impressive the record he has in this league. He's very passionate and dedicated to the game. I enjoy learning from him."

MSG Network will have complete coverage of all the doings taking place Friday night at Rexall Place, beginning at 8:00 P.M. Eastern Time with the ceremony honoring Glen Sather and continuing right through Alain Vigneault's 1,000th game of his NHL coaching career, when the Rangers and Oilers face off at 9:30.

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