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“It was a difficult decision. We’ve both grown up with each other,” Sather said passing on Messier. “At this stage, A.V. was the man. Mark has got to decide what he wants to do.”

Tortorella was fired May 29 _ four days after the Rangers were eliminated by Boston. A year ago, the Rangers reached the Eastern Conference finals.

In an ironic twist, Tortorella was reportedly offered the job on Friday to replace Vigneault in Vancouver.

Sather insisted that no player came to him and asked for Tortorella to be fired. No players were in attendance Friday.

“There hasn’t been a player who … complained to me about Torts,” Sather said. “He’s the kind of guy who pushes to win. A.V. is a pusher, as well.”

When asked if Tortorella was stubborn in resisting adopting a more offensive style, Sather had a quick answer.

“Maybe beyond stubborn,” he said. “He was perfect for us for a few years. He’s going to be perfect for another team, but it was getting to be so hard on some of our players.”

Speculation that Vigneault was about to be hired by the Rangers increased greatly last weekend, especially after he removed himself from consideration to become Dallas’ coach.

“I want to win,” Vigneault said. “I did find out that it is a lot easier to negotiate yourself a contract when you’ve got two teams that are after you than just one.”

With that, he gave Sather a hearty pat on the back as those in the room broke out in laughter.

“I didn’t particularly enjoy that part,” Sather said with a smile.

Vigneault ranked first on the Canucks‘ list in coaching wins and came within one victory of capturing the Stanley Cup in 2011. In seven seasons, Vigneault was 313-170-57 in the regular season but only 33-32 in the playoffs.

His final two seasons ended in disappointment as Vancouver was knocked out in the first round in both years _ including a sweep by San Jose last month.

The Canucks hadn’t been swept in the playoffs in 12 years. The early-round exits when they were the higher-seeded team, and losses at home at the starts of the series, were cited by Vancouver general manager Mike Gillis as reasons for Vigneault’s firing on May 22.

“There is no doubt in my mind that this organization is committed to winning the Stanley Cup,” Vigneault said of the Rangers. “We’ve got a lot of great pieces here and we’re going to try to improve so that we all get to where we want to be.”

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