Here at Blue Seat Blogs we feel that when we bring you Rangers information, particularly our own analysis, you guys benefit from well, our differing of opinions. As a group Dave, Justin, Kevin, the Suit and myself don’t always agree and that can lead to fresh ideas and interesting perspectives. The Rangers vacant head coaching role is no different.
With news of the Rangers approaching Alain Vigneault and Dallas Eakins as they begin their search to replace John Tortorella we have varied opinions on the HC role. We thought we’d share what we think with you.
For me, it is either Vigneault or Eakins. Vigneault has run some very offensive minded schemes in Vancouver, and his personality is the exact opposite of Torts. You don’t follow up Torts with Lindy Ruff. They are the same personality, and you will get the same result. If the Rangers are set on being more creative and less north-south, then Vigneault is their man.
My strong preference is for Vigneault. He brings a pedigree and a track record of success, which I believe it key for a team who fancies itself a contender. He has shown a propensity for thinking outside the box from a systems perspective and his teams have shown all sorts of offensive creativity. He essentially had to win 4 out of 4 home games in the Finals in 2011, since Roberto Luongo had an allergy to stopping the puck in Boston.
If AV cannot be had, I think I would go with Ken Gernander. He knows the org and the current core very well and is a more player-friendly personality than Torts was. For that reason I would instantly eliminate Lindy Ruff and Ron Wilson from the conversation.
It has to be Vigneault, for many of the reasons mentioned in this great post by Canucks Army. The Rangers are a team that has to win now and Alain is the only available guy with recent NHL success of any magnitude. I’m encouraged by his willingness to embrace modern tactics and advanced data, but I’m probably more excited by his track record of both getting the most out of his star players and finding them strong complimentary linemates.
Another positive for me: the Roberto Luongo/Cory Schneider controversy has been a major distraction for years, but I think Vigneault has handled the situation about as well as you could hope for. Finally, I just think all the other candidates have fatal flaws. I’m not in favour of handing over the reins of a Cup contender to guys without NHL experience like Ken Gernander, Dallas Eakins, Mike Eaves and Jeff Beukeboom. Lindy Ruff hasn’t had much success in recent years either.
Dave Tippett would be my second choice, but I don’t like the idea of having to wait until the end of June for him with no promises while everyone else gets snapped up; the Rangers can’t afford to take that risk.
I’m not as much of an X’s or O’s guy as guys like the Suit, and we’ve heard in the media about how apparently modern NHL coaches need to be more personality managers than the chalkboard stars of yesteryear. If coupled with a veteran NHL coach – to offer the right blend – I’d have no qualms in thinking outside the box with a guy like Mark Messier.
The more I thought about it the less I panicked about Messier’s lack of experience. As a soccer fan – where ego management is the greatest challenge of any modern coach – I have seen great players become great coaches; the individual’s skill set is more important than the clichéd failings of great players not making it in the coaching fraternity. Mark Messier commands respect, he wouldn’t accept less than 100% and if the the greatest leader hockey has ever seen cannot inspire an extra 10% out of these Rangers are we not in trouble anyway?
Aside from outside the box thinking (aka Rangers number 11) I’d be happy with Alain Vigneault as an option because he brings the impressive track record and should have plenty of motivation to prove the Canucks wrong. Should Gillis have gone instead of Vigneault? After all, it was Gillis who couldn’t settle the protracted mess that was the Canucks goalie situation.
In a perfect world Glen Sather will make a phone call to Detroit and entice Mike Babcock to the Rangers but unfortunately that isn’t happening.
My vote is for Jeff Beukeboom for three main reasons. He knows what it takes to win here. He has experience coaching but isn’t some other org’s cast off and I think he can be the right mix off tough love and support for his players. Plus it helps he has coached a few of our kids.
If the Rangers hire someone who is just gonna come in here and play nice with the players, we are doomed. We need someone who is going to hold guys accountable without tossing them under the bus to the media.
How Glen Sather deals with the Rangers head coaching job promises to change the Rangers significantly down the road. With both internal and external candidates both proven and unproven, the fallout from Sather’s next major decision will be significant.