NEW YORK — When Glen Sather was looking for the next New York Rangers coach, Bryan Trottier's numbers caught his eye.

It wasn't his 524 goals, his 1,425 points or even his seven Stanley Cup victories.

Instead, it was the 40 handwritten pages Trottier submitted in response to a long questionnaire Sather sent potential coaching candidates.

That led to the hiring of the ex-Islander on Thursday as the 30th coach in Rangers history.

"For some reason this just impressed me, Sather said. "It shows how serious he was about it, how much he wanted the job and how enthusiastic he was about it."

Trottier, the 12th-leading scorer in NHL history, took four days to complete his answers and said the nine pages of questions "seemed like 100."

"When it got down to the end, and Bryan and I finally met with each other, it didn't take very long to decide that he was the guy that I wanted to see guide the New York Rangers," Sather said.

Now that Trottier won over Sather, he might have to do the same with Rangers fans. The former center is one of the greatest players for the archrival New York Islanders.

Trottier hasn't given much thought to what the reaction will be opening night at Madison Square Garden, or when he returns to Nassau Coliseum.

"It'll be interesting," Trottier said. "I thought more about it the very first time I went back there with the Penguins than I did now."

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The 45-year-old Trottier replaces Ron Low. Low was fired at the end of the regular season in which the Rangers finished out of the playoffs for the fifth straight year.

Before turning to Trottier, Sather interviewed Ken Hitchcock, who was hired by Philadelphia; Dave Tippett, who took the job in Dallas; and U.S. Olympic coach Herb Brooks.

Trottier has been an assistant coach with the Colorado Avalanche since 1998 and spent three years as an assistant with the Pittsburgh Penguins. His only head coaching experience was with Portland of the AHL in the 1997-98 season.