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Should Rangers fans exercise caution over Alain Vigneault?

What set of players will AV have to cast an eye over next year?

What set of players will AV have to cast an eye over next year?

People argue that ‘acts’ such as those employed by John Tortorella eventually wear thin. Abrasive managers such as the former Rangers head coach usually outstay their welcomes. With the pending arrival of Alain Vigneault the Rangers will still have a man with pedigree and a coach with a completely different approach to the game – both tactically and personality wise – than Tortorella. Will it work?

Looking at the Rangers roster, and the personalities scattered throughout it, it’s difficult not to expect better production next season, at least better than what was provided in the abbreviated 2012-13 campaign. If Brad Richards is kept he surely cannot be worse, Michael Del Zotto, Carl Hagelin, and even Ryan Callahan could offer more consistency offensively while Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider, and Derick Brassard will be expected to help carry the offense, something that wasn’t asked of them this season.

Rick Nash will likely respond better to a man that looks to put him in offensive opportunities at every opportunity. It’s reasonable to expect Nash to become the Sedin (take your pick) of the Rangers; deployed to a league leading level of offensive zone starts. Then there is the aforementioned Brad Richards, Chris Kreider, and even Derek Stepan, who would all surely benefit from the open space and more offensive nature of Vigneault’s systems and line changing ways. Chris Kreider is certainly better going straight ahead than he is wandering almost lost into corners digging out pucks.

Despite the potential match between Vigneault’s approach and the Rangers’ individual personalities, caution must be noted. The players– at least judging by their on ice efforts – clearly didn’t tune out John Tortorella, they played for their coach to the end. And in theory at least, Tortorella’s system promoted aggressive forechecking and puck pursuit.

Was it Tortorella’s systems or the lack of talent implementing them?  If the answer is indeed talent then it’s not a foregone conclusion Vigneault will succeed. Known for rolling four lines, Vigneault’s system likely demands more natural talent than Tortorella’s, even if the incoming coach is known for putting the right players in the right situations to maximize skill sets.

With significant parts of the lineup to re-sign (Stepan, Hagelin, McDonagh, Zuccarello), the Rangers don’t necessarily have the money to go and get Vigneault four lines worth of talent. With the injuries to Callahan, Hagelin and Del Zotto, Vigneault may also be robbed of quite a bit of talent in the short term so resources will be stretched even further. Will Vigneault entrust Chris Kreider, JT Miller or an Oscar Lindberg type rookie with the ice time they need? Vigneault’s first training camp will be very telling on numerous fronts.

Vigneault’s arrival will bring the Rangers a much needed change of direction. The team grew stale offensively, and if Vigneault really can put his skill players in position to maximize their talent the Rangers should score more and ease the burden on Henrik Lundqvist. That said, the Rangers don’t benefit from the blind chemistry the Sedin twins had, nor do they (currently) boast the depth the Canucks have had in recent memory.

Vigneault could be the cure-all for the Rangers as they look to contend, but for fans, it’s worth approaching the new season with an air of caution.  Even with a strong core, some promising young talent, and a deep pocketed owner, Vigneault will have plenty of work ahead if he’s to take the Rangers beyond what John Tortorella was able to do.

21 Responses to “Should Rangers fans exercise caution over Alain Vigneault?”

  1. Walt says:

    If anyone thinks AV can walk on water, think twice!

    That stated, I believe he will let the players play to their collective strength, and the game will be much more wide open than we’ve seen over the last administration. I just hope that the fan base gives this guy a chance, because with two thirds of your first line out with shoulder surgery, don’t expect this team to come out of the gate like gang busters.

    If you listened to his question, and answer sesion, AV stated when he was in Vancouver, at first they were very defensive, but as the young core of players developed their skill set, they became much more offensive. Understanding that, I feel strongly that will indeed be the case with us as well. It appears that he is a good teacher, as well as a coach.

  2. Mikeyyy says:

    Change is good. Resistance to change breeds stalesness. Even though av is not my first choice, I stand behind the team till he proves my support is misguided.

    The potential here is that av becomes not the antithesis of torts, but a toner down version that can get results.

    Torts biggest problem was that he was asking thoroughbreds to be pack mules.

    On a regular basis he threw players under the bus. Gabby needs to step up, hagglin stinks, dubi needs to play better. mcd needs to shut up.

    Gabby had surgery on his shoulder.
    Hags had surgery for a torn labrum.
    Dubi had stress fractures in his leg.
    Mcd was trying to motivate staal and stand up for his teammate.

    He sealed his fate by speaking without thinking and abusing his players with Renney hockey.

    Lets turn the page and support the new coach. Worst case scenario he sucks and messier takes over 20-40 games into the season.

    At least give the new coach the benefit of the doubt till he proves otherwise.

  3. AD says:

    To imply Nash’ production for this team was held back by Tortorella is misguided and, put simply, ludicrous.

    Where is the player accountability in all the discussion about team shortcomings under Tortorella? Between the players and coach, it appeared to me this past season it was the players who were not prepared, physically or mentally, to make a run for the Cup; they only started performing to their capabilities the last month of the season and that’s now how Stanley Cup teams operate.

    Also, where is the recognition that an average skillset team overachieved under Tortorella’s coaching, or that an elite goaltender made it easy to overlook a lot of shortcomings with the collection of players that Sather assembled?

    During his press conference, AV stated one reason he came to the Rangers is because they are now “an elite team within the NHL.” Where is the recognition that that status did not exist under Renney, and that Tortorella helped shape a culture that has elevated this organization toward one of sustainable success?

    AV is a top level coach; no doubt, and I am excited about all things associated with a new coach and how players may respond to a new coach and style of play. However, one year from now, we could easily be looking at the Canucks, under Tortorella, making a deeper run in the Stanley Cup playoffs than the Rangers, under AV.

    I hope otherwise, but I am not convinced the Rangers have taken a step forward with their coaching change.

    That is a long way of answering your question with a resounding YES! The expectations of a more potent offense and successful team are already too high.

    • Spozo says:

      You hit the nail on the head. Probably my biggest gripe with all the anti-Tortorella talk about here was that it appeared as is people blamed everything on the coach and threw player accountability out the window.

      I would love a job where we go on strike for half a year, are then thrust right back in to the thick of things, I can then suck at my job and all the blame is on my manager.

      Maybe Torts act did grow thin and Sather felt that AV gives them a better chance at winning the cup. But half of last years season has to be put on the players shoulders as well. Brad Richards was the main reason why brad Richards was awful. Kreider couldn’t put the puck in the net against AHLers so it was no surprise that he struggled last year. That was as much his fault as it was the coaches.

      • Evan says:

        haha overachieved. Compare the team Torts took over 4 years ago to the team he was given last year. You have to be joking me that the team “overachieved” under him. He had more talent than we have ever had and many young players with years under their belts. Henrik made him look good and not the other way around. Forming a protective shield around henrik and leaving point men open is not the way to play.

        He did not adjust to the personnel and he took zero accountability for our deficiencies on the PP.

        Also the point that was brought up above that you guys seem to give torts zero flack for is his throwing players under the bus. He benched Gaborik and lambasted him in the media last year vs the devils, meanwhile he had a torn shoulder. He also proceeded to do the same to hagelin this year and hagelin also had a torn labrum. What kind of approach is that when your guys are playing through these injuries?

        I think now we can actually make a judgement about our talent with a new approach and coach. If the team proceeds to be awful this year, then we know that it is the players sather has brought together and not the coaches.

  4. rocketroy says:

    FRESH, NEW START FOR RANGERS ORGANIZATION…!!!
    Final comments on Torts, as he is now old news, although I wish him well on getting the Canucks job, and wouldn’t that be ironic…Two things that irritated me to no end about Torts, is #1) Coaching Staff..When most teams had 3-4 assistant coaches, being the egotistical person he is, insisted on…ONE…#2) Play Style..As you look at most other teams it is about PUCK CONTROL, and not DUMP & CHASE…We talked all the time about our pathetic power play, and even with the man advantage we would..Dump & Chase..and waste a big chunk of time trying to retrieve the puck….So as I said when Torts was fired, and I saw that Alain Vigneault was available, we had a once in a lifetime opportunity, as I have to go back to Mike Keenen’s hiring in 1993, to get a coach of his ability…WAY TO GO GLEN…!!!!

    • AD says:

      those are good points and interesting observations. when i watched our team demonstrate puck control, too often I saw our players lose the puck; even with a man advantage. It was embarrassing to see a 5 v 4 unit being unable to carry and control the puck — if AV can resolve this problem at this tsage of the players’ careers, serve me up some of that humble pie!

      LGR!

  5. paulronty says:

    Although he was not my first choice, AV presented himself as very confident & self assured yesterday. Certainly I’m feeling cautious about him, but hell he’s here & let’s hope he can bring out the best in this team. Torts failing is that he overused some guys too much which resulted in a beat up team in the playoffs two years running. He didn’t “trust” youth so he overplayed veterans, although you have to cut him some slack this year with the shortened season. I don’t agree that the Canucks had more talent than the Rangers–not true, especially on the D where the Rangers are vastly superior to the Canucks. The talent is there–no excuses so let’s see what AV can do.

  6. The Suit says:

    Give me a good powerplay and I’ll be happy with AV. We all know how good this team can be 5 on 5.

    I’ve turned the page on Torts. Great coach. Good luck to him in Vancouver.

    • Spozo says:

      If the Rangers power play were in the top third of the league the last two years we are probably looking at one Stanley cup final birth at least. If that aspect is improved upon, this team is automatically up at the elite level with Pitt and Boston.

  7. Brian says:

    Thought AV cam across really well yesterday. But my years as a Ranger fan have taught me to temper my expectations no matter what.
    Now I’d like to throw something out there and see what you guys think. Apparently there’s some talk that Minnesota may buy out Tom Gilbert. A 6’3″, puck moving defenseman whose a righty shot that they can get on the cheap. Anyone else interested?

    • Walt says:

      You can never get enough good d-men! I don’t know much about him, but if he can move the puck up ice, and play sound defense, why not????

  8. Chris F says:

    Am I just too absorbed in the Rangers bubble, or am I right to be a little disappointed that AV seemed to know nothing about the Rangers organization or their current roster?

    He kept referring to the skill he’s been ‘told about.’ Does the man not know what he has at his disposal at this point?

    • Walt says:

      He also said that because of the shortened season, his team didn’t travel east, hence he didn’t see our team play this year. Knowing that, and the fact that the team is different from last year, don’t hold that against him!!

  9. Bloomer says:

    The success of the Rangers will depend on how their younger players develop and AV could be a positive or negative influence with that. Torts strength as a coach was with young players as many of them became effective NHL players.
    The jury is out with AV as the much of the Canucks roster was set when he took the reins. He failed with rookie Hodgens (basically running him out of Vancouver) and goalie Schneider struggled in the playoffs. It could be argued that Corys Schneider development was hampered by AV indecision to go with him as the #1 netminder.
    AV is not the panacea of a coach that everyone is claiming, true he probably is the best candidate out there, but the best fit and the best choice for a Ranger coach was the one that they just let go.

  10. Ray says:

    I cannot get enthused about firing a coach who could only manage 9 regulation goals in 5 games against Boston only to replace him with a coach who managed 7 regulation goals in seven games. Lundqvist would have been hard pressed to get the Canucks to Game 5 and somehow AV only failed to win a Cup because of Luongo.

    One of my biggest complaints with Torts was excess specialization. The team wasn’t great on the PK despite having one of the best in the game in Rick Nash. AV won’t change that. I’m sure Boyle will score a lot more with zero OZ faceoffs.

  11. Bloomer says:

    On a side note..I want to throw this out there Torts signs with the Canucks and then Richards follows? The Rangers could trade BR for Lou then move Lou..what do you think fellow bloggers?

    • Ray says:

      The Rangers can’t trade Richards. The new CBA makes Richards a certain buyout candidate, either this year or next. No one is going to trade for a player they are going to have to buy out. If a team wants Richards, they wait for the Rangers to buy him out and then sign him to a reasonable contract.

  12. Jess Rubenstein says:

    If you have to ask that question then you have already wrote AV off

  13. the king says:

    Richards back to tampa. watch