Coaching, not controversy

December 3, 2013, by
Is AV still looking to point his players in the right direction?

Is AV still looking to point his players in the right direction?

If any conclusions can be drawn from the apparent goaltending ‘drama’ that has been going on in New York it is that Alain Vigneault is still getting to know his team and he’s still learning which buttons to press with which players. Henrik Lundqvist is usually harder on himself than anyone else could be; such is his will to win. He won’t have been happy backing up Cam Talbot for Monday’s depressing defeat against the Jets but if the result is a hot streak from Lundqvist who are we to second guess the decision?

While some prefer to focus on a controversy, Cam Talbot is someone that has clearly grown with every start and you can see his confidence grow with every save – despite the defeat last night. It appears that Vigneault may be flirting with a goalie controversy but is it just a coach still familiarising himself with the assets at his disposal? Could it even be a message to the rest of the team rather than the star goaltender?

For those paying attention, Vigneault has prodded countless players over the past few weeks and months and given the middling results so far this season that is exactly what he should be doing. The Michael Del Zotto situation has been one where the coach has been unafraid to publicly challenge a player to be better. Vigneault has publicly expressed his opinion on Benoit Pouliot while players such as Mats Zuccarello, Carl Hagelin and John Moore have been asked for more from the coach publicly. With the inconsistent and at times disappointing performances from numerous players on the roster this season it stands to reason that the coach will look to coach and prod his players for better performances.

In seasons previous, fans and media alike have bemoaned the feisty approach and perhaps almost haphazard style John Tortorella had with his players publicly (see the Hagelin based remarks late last season). What we are now seeing is a coach that is open but still challenging, but one that is still trying to push the same buttons that Tortorella pushed just in different ways.

Sometimes the message may be the same but a new coach needs to convey his message in a different way, his own way. It appeared that Tortorella’s act may have worn thin in his final weeks and months as Rangers Head Coach. Rather than entertain a goaltending controversy maybe we should point to a coach finding a way to get the best out of his star goaltender while trying to develop his rookie netminder at the same time. One may be a $7m goaltender and one may not, but they’re both assets.

Whether it’s the goaltenders, the defense or the forwards; all you are seeing right now is a coach finding a way to get the most out of his players. Something that is clearly not easy to achieve based on the season to date. Not exactly radical. Definitely not controversial.


  1. Mikeyyy says:

    Sheer brilliance by av.

    Now expectations of talbot will lower. The king is still no 1. And all is well.

    Regression to the mean

  2. Chris F says:

    Well, now is the time to get Hank re-inspired. Hank could use a decisive game against the putrid Sabres to give himself confidence, and hopefully last night’s showing by Talbot reaffirms his belief that he is the back-bone of this team and needs to play that way.

    I don’t think starting Talbot was sheer brilliance. I think it was a mistake (only in hindsight obviously) that AV probably regrets. I think Hank wins last night if he was played; but AV doesn’t like to shake things up after a win.

    Maybe he’ll change his mind on that and start to put out the best possible lineup for a W on each and every night.

  3. Chris F says:

    What’s the shake-up going to look like against Buffalo?

    Hank in, Talbot out is the obvious one.

    DZ or Falk out for Moore?

    Does Pyatt get reinserted?

  4. paulronty says:

    Close to 30 games in and I’m still ambivalent about AV. Not starting Hank on Monday night was a mistake & sometimes I think AV over thinks things. Didn’t like him putting Richards on the wing either although I see he changed back. Brassard needs a guy like Kristo with him, not TP or BP. And BB needs to stay on the wing.

  5. Ray says:

    I started as an AV doubter, but I really like the way he tries things. Torts would never have used MZA on the PK; AV tried it. If it didn’t work, you learn something. When it did, you’ve got a new option. Benching Moore a couple games to put MDZ on the left with Falk on the right is something that needed to be tried. I suspect he’ll know his team better at the trade deadline than Torts ever did.

  6. Ted says:

    Nope sorry, got this one all wrong. If after all he time AV has had to learn the team, to use the excuse that he is still learning is a horrible statement about his skill set.

    The players are not playing well as they have only fear of mistakes and being benched. This whole situation reminds me of the Phil Espo years of being coach and the revolving door of players in and out of the line up. We have the same thing going right now – players know if they make a mistake, they will be benched. Always looking over your shoulder leads to the mess we have right now.

    Sorry but AV is not the right coach for this team. He is in way over his head and it is time to get him out.

    • Chris F says:


      You can’t think AV coaches through fear more than Torts did.

      Players being benched for making mistakes was Tortorella’s defining MO.

      AV may employ a similar philosophy at times but I don’t see him as ruling with an iron fist the way Torts did.

  7. The Suit says:

    I’ve moved past comparing AV and Torts and hope everyone else eventually will too. The dirt throwing in both directions has gotten to be more than tiresome.

    Anyway, I like what AV is trying to do from an x and o standpoint. Good systems. Much improved power play and some entertaining hockey most nights despite not quite getting the results just yet.

    The one negative for me isn’t what he says with a mic in his face, I’ll never care about that crap, but how he deploys players has been a bit of a head scratcher for me.

    If Pooliot is a borderline NHL player (AV’s words), then why is he getting 12 mins a night? Why does he get time on the PP? MDZ gets benched for subpar play but Girardi doesn’t? Not a lot of rhyme or reason.

    • Walt says:

      Couldn’t have said it any better, silk tie for that!!!!!

    • @Centerman21 says:

      Girardi has made some real bad plays with the puck but he never once stands there to watch the chaos ensue like some Dmen. He gets back in there and is usually the guy to make a diving play. IMO that’s why he is still in the lineup. Also my opinion is that is where AV is no different than Torts was. He just expected some hustle.
      I couldn’t care less what a coach says to the media. Not one thing Torts ever said bothered me. He’s paid to coach hockey. Those reporters are paid to get the coach to say the wrong thing and blow it up. Before the Van game, how hard did they try to start a back and forth between the coaches & players. I’m sure AV’s smiles are all fake too.

  8. phil says:

    bring up Kristo and Johnson ( 7th defense) trade MDZ and Pouliot asap…..shake up #1…give it a try

  9. Forever 1994 says:

    This team needs some toughness period. Need to rid ourselves of Pyatt and Boyle. Insert Bickle/Asham in Pyatt’s spot. Trade Girardi & Boyle to Winnipeg for Byfuglien. Put Big Buff w/Nash & Stepan (No one will be taking runs at Nash)and put Kreider with Cally and Richards. Bring up McIlrath and put him with Marc Staal. If we are to make a deep run in the playoffs we need toughness because we DON’T have any. We cannot continually watch Dorsett (all heart)try to fight all the bigger opponents or Zuke for that matter. Knowing the teams he has been a part of I don’t think Sather will allow some of this stuff to continue.

    • Walt says:

      We are on the same page, but it appears that there are plenty on this blog that think we don’t need grit, we can pansy our way through the season, and play offs! We should change our name to the NY Jellos!!!!!

    • Walt says:

      We are on the same page, but it appears that there are plenty on this blog that think we don’t need grit, we can pansy our way through the season, and play offs! We should change our name to the NY Jellos!!!!!

    • @Centerman21 says:

      So the Jets are gonna just give us Byfulglien for scraps? That’s not gonna happen. You have the right idea but the radical approach is well. A little too radical. I would love to see McIlrath in the top 6. I don’t know about with Staal on the 2nd pair but with Moore maybe as a 3rd pair. Moore is a great skater and could make up for McIlraths lack of skating for the time being.
      The thing about Boyle (and I love Boyle) is that he plays like a 4th liner but he’s like the Charmin guy from the toilet pater commercial. ( yeah that’s soft) he’s not skilled enough to play top 9 either. He also gets paid a bit much for 4th line mins. Pyatt I can’t stand. He should’ve been waived as soon as he played a min on the ice after his concussion. Pouliot too. Both can go on. I thought he’d be a great signing but it hasn’t worked out here. Time to move on. Boyle needs to stay. At least through the playoffs. He’s our Faceoff guy. Moore hasn’t hit his stride yet either. I think we have a Defenseman we can part with. Maybe Staal just not a righty. From that we should be able to get a big guy like a Wheeler or Stewart. I think we could live with a righty winger that shoots first. Too many passers on this team.

  10. AD says:

    Whenever an article makes a comparison between Tortorella and AV, and uses adjestives such as “haphazard” and ” an act” to describe Tortorella, it is perfectly fair for people to respond.

    a) Tortorella got the most out of his players and was much ore adept at managing personnel than AV is, based on AV’s very short history so far;

    b) where is the coaching component to benching a player? Every coach, including AV, has the right to bench players, but that is not coaching. Tortorella was an excellent coach — just ask McDonagh, Stepan, Boyle, etc…countless players throughout his career speack extraordinarily highly of Tortorella; I’ve never heard similar comments about AV

    Now, putting the coaching stuff aside, I think the burden should be on AV to get more out of this team. He has had more than sufficient time to “get to know his players.” That’s a ridiculous excuse for an NHL coach nearly 30 games into the season.

    I did not agree with the decision to replace Tortorella; AV was certainly not my top choice, and, frankly, I am underwhelmed by AV — I don’t think he is anything more than an average coach. I am beginning to see why people have stated he was out-coached in the Stanley Cup and coaches soft teams.

  11. Walt says:

    Don’t know why it posted twice, sorry.

  12. Mikeyyy says:

    The veterans should be leading this team.

    The players have to hold themselves accountable for their play.