Putting Nick Holden in a position to succeed

October 28, 2016, by

nick holden

It’s amazing how quickly a player can get into the dog house with fans. But just six games into the season, Nick Holden has done just that. After being thrust into a top pairing role on his off-side with Ryan McDonagh, Holden has struggled mightily. He’s been out of position, looks a little lost, and is a bit panicky with the puck.

There can be multiple factors at play here. First and foremost: He’s playing well above his pay grade. He’s not a top pairing guy on the right side (his off-side). Heck, he’s not a top pairing guy when playing on his proper side. If he were this guy, he would have cost more than a fourth round pick at the draft.

Second, as alluded to above, he’s playing on the right side. I get that he may be capable of doing so, but he’s clearly not succeeding in that role right now. This is like trying to get fetch to happen –if you get that reference, kudos to you– and it’s just not working.

Then there’s the fact that Holden is learning an entirely new system. He played man coverage while in Colorado under Patrick Roy. Now he’s learning a zone system, in which his assignments aren’t as basic as “mark your man and shadow him.”

In the professional environment, the role of the manager (or “boss”) is to put his/her staff in a position to succeed. By doing so, you build out characteristics you want on your team, and in turn makes the team stronger. The same applies to hockey.

It’s clear Holden is having major troubles on the right side on the top pair. He will eventually feel comfortable in the system, but the other two concerns are on Alain Vigneault to fix. There aren’t that many great options on this team right now to put next to McDonagh, but it’s clear the Holden experiment should likely be stopped. He’s not succeeding in this role, and it’s time for that role to change so he can be a serviceable defenseman for this team.

"Putting Nick Holden in a position to succeed", 5 out of 5 based on 1 ratings.
Categories : Players


  1. SalMerc says:

    Holden is trying, but clearly should not be a first line defender on any team. He is having problems, making mistakes and does not possess the speed to cover up for his errors.

    We are all longing for a real 1RD, and he is not it. AV is making him play the role, who many here thought (not me) McIlrath should have got a shot at. I do not know the guy, but know we need a better solution that him at 1RD.

    • paulronty says:

      Well, wasn’t the plan that Brady Skjei was going to play the right with McD? McD also played the right side in the Olympics, didn’t he? Maybe they should switch him, not that I’d do that but it’s an option. When they traded for Holden, I just shook my head & laughed knowing he was DMACs replacement. And a lousy replacement at that.

    • ken says:

      please tell me that you’re joking with the McLlrath part of that! could that be the same McLlrath that 29 other teams passed on when they could have had him for nothing?? Holden has rocket fuel in his skates compared to McLlrath!

  2. Chris F says:

    Would it be crazy to pair Klein with McDonagh? I know that spreads the talent pretty thin on the bottom 4, but it makes for a solid top pairing that can eat minutes.

    We still have a problem on the right side, but at least that can gets kicked down to the second or third pairings.


    • Chris A says:

      They did that last year for a chunk of games. Klein was exposed. Klein is a good player, but not top pair material.

      • Chris F says:

        I’m not suggesting in an ideal world that we’d lean on Klein for 1RD duties, but with this lineup do you see a better option?

        I doubt there’s anyone else on this roster who’d be less exposed in that role.

        • Chris A says:

          Skeji. Let him build up some confidence with a few good games in a row and make sure he’s back to being 100% fit after having a virus all training camp, and then he should be playing most of the game next to McD.

          Of course, that means Holden/Girardi-Clendening for the 3rd pair, but that’s unavoidable, at least until Ryan Graves gets called up.

  3. Chris F says:

    Pastrnak suspended 2 games for the hit on Girardi, by the way.

  4. Andy says:

    Wouldn’t it make better sense to try Skeji on the right side of McDonaugh? I think he played there a bit and did quite well. Then Holden can be the 3rd guy on the left? looking like
    Holden-Girardi/Clendening(scary I know)

    This is Del Zotto all over again

    • Chris F says:

      I’d hate to see McDonagh on his off-side, as we need him at his absolute best, and similarly I’d be caution againat moving Skjei to the right as he’s in a critical developmental stage right now.

      With that said, this doesn’t look terrible:


      I don’t love pairing up Staal and Girardi, but it’s probably better than the tire fire of Holden/Clendening-Girardi.

      • Chris F says:

        *I’d caution against (sheesh)

      • Andy says:

        Agree on not wanting to hurt Skeji’s development, but as I recall he played Right side in the play-offs last year and was pretty good on his off side. I think he benefits from playing with McDonaugh.

        • Chris F says:

          I’d prefer Skjei over Holden on the top pair. I think we can expect greater reliability from Holden if he’s on his natural left side playing bottom four minutes. That’s how he was used in Colorado and he did a decent job in that role.

          I still prefer Klein as 1RD at this point in time though.

  5. Andy says:

    McIlrath clears waivers so at least he is not lost for nothing…yet

    • Bloomer says:

      That was a cheap shot on Girardi no need for that kind of crap. Holden doesn’t look comfortable out there, but we knew it would take time for him to adjust with his teammates. McIIrath is better off playing hockey in Hartford, then sitting in the press box in New York.

  6. joe719 says:

    DMAC clears! I guess no other team wanted a future Hall of Famer!~ (;

    • Bobby B says:

      joe719, we never said he was a future hall of famer, in my opinion as well as many others, he is better than what we have in front of him, and a team player who brings the element of physicality that is non existent on this roster. The fact he cleared waivers is not the only factor on why he went unclaimed. If it was Holden or Clendening who got waived would it be a slam dunk they get claimed??

      • joe719 says:

        You can have that opinion, but its based on a very limited, undistinguished sample. If he WAS better than ‘whats in front of him,'(a very dubious claim, to say the least), he’d be in the lineup.

      • ken says:

        oh please! he is a 7th or 8th dman at best! he went unclaimed because 29 other GM’S saw what most of us saw, a guy with a lot of heart and very little talent! he isn’t better than our worst dman, if he was at 800,000 someone would have claimed him!

  7. joe719 says:

    Pasternak gets the 2 games only because it was a nationally televised game.

    • Bobby B says:

      The fact that he nailed Girardi ( a veteran who is a war horse) and then gave Vessey that shove after his goal, showed many that this Ranger group is soft, no fear or worries playing the Bully against them. If Mcllrath’s presence was looming, maybe he thinks twice, do I really want to be picking up my teeth?? or will Mcllrath take action against an older Bruin player or one of our finesse guy’s??.

      • joe719 says:

        DMAC would have done nothing! You know why—its hard to do anything from the pressbox! But seriously, again you are buying into the myth of the “Undertaker.” A myth forged in Juniors with no real basis in the NHL. You’re in love with the idea of an enforcer that fights all our battles and who the rest of the League fears. That NHL is long gone—and really—except for a dustup with Simmonds last year, where is the evidence, NHL evidence, that DMAC would have been that type of guy. From his limited playing time, all I saw was a guy trying not to make mistakes and playing it ultra safe. And still making mistakes! Enough of them, that he couldn’t break the lineup. You have to let the ‘Legend that never Was’ go!

        • Bobby B says:

          Joe719, Take a poll of the top moments from last years highlights. Dylan’s call out of Simmonds had the Garden as loud as it gets. Your team captain gets sucker punched, gets a concussion, and AV is content to let it go. Mcllrath takes a stand, the Garden explodes, his teammates feel 10 ft tall, ( this kid has our back). Tell me that is not an important part of making a team feel like a team?????. I respect your opinion on DMAC, I am entitled to mine. We agree to dis-agree, makes this Blog what it is. Lets go Rangers.

          • joe719 says:

            Oh, I respect your opinions, its just that I have a hard time understanding this love affair that you and others have with DMAC, when we hardly have seen him play meaningful minutes. Lets not overstate those minutes he did get. As for the Simmonds thing—did you watch the exhibition game with Philly last month. There was Simmonds poking Hank after the whistle, again. That supposed beat-down from DMAC really took didn’t it? I think its time we just concentrate on who is here and in the lineup, instead of who we wish was in the lineup. Hell, they’re off to a pretty good start. Lets just be happy about that. At least for a little while.

  8. Hatrick Swayze says:

    Mean Girls……. Boom

  9. Hatrick Swayze says:

    What really threw me for a loop was the NBC broadcast (Milbury) AND NHLN studio guys (Brian Lawton) both sang his praises saying “he really looks comfortable playing on the top pair”, “is impressing”, etc, etc.

    These guys don’t watch nearly enough league hockey to make blanket statements about each of these 30 teams on a nightly basis, I’d surmise. Just because you’ve “been around the game”, doesn’t mean you don’t have to stay current with the game. Especially if you want to be good at your job.

  10. supermaz says:

    Holden playing over a fan favorite and clearly a better player with much more upside, is utterly ridiculous. And the only reason this is happening is because our stubborn coach has a vendetta against McIlrath for some reason.

    • Chris F says:

      Keep repeating it. Maybe it will come true.

    • Rod Seiling's Twilight Zone says:

      AV must be very well liked and respected by the other 29 coaches in the NHL for them to join him in his personal “vendetta”.

      • Chris F says:

        It’s really getting out of hand. AV has a vendetta against McIlrath. AV doesn’t know how to coach kids / doesn’t give kids a chance. AV gets his assessments from other coaches. AV ruined an otherwise Cup worthy team. Lots of tired, disproven tropes, and lots of paranoid speculation.

        • Rod Seiling's Twilight Zone says:

          And it won’t stop even though every other team in the NHL passed on him. As a total denial of reality, the support for him is actually quite impressive. As for the irrational and somewhat unhinged personal attacks, the animus towards AV borders on the clinical.

          • Chris F says:

            Well, I mean they obviously only passed on him because AV ruined his confidence and his reputation around the League. Clearly.

          • Ranger11 says:

            I’m pretty sure AV was responsible for starting WWII. These guys are nuts already with the AV remarks. We’ve had more success since he’s been here then we’ve seen in many years and yet they’re only saying negative nonsense. I like when Walt said AV inherited a great team and ruined it. Really? I don’t remember getting past the 2nd round the year before. Yeah Torts got us to the conference finals the year before that but since AV has been here we’ve had exciting hockey and been one of the best teams. He’s not perfect but none of them are

            • paulronty says:

              You can be happy with the success, but us real fans, we want the Cup, nothing less & do you really think AV gets his name on the Cup? Actually I hope he does but I’m not betting a plug nickel on it.

        • Dave says:

          My only gripe with AV is that he appears unwilling to adjust based on who’s on his roster.

          • Chris F says:

            No issue there. I think he could have given McIlrath a longer leash. I think his deployment of Holden on the top pair is destined to fail. I still scratch my head at his reliance on Glass for so long.

            He’s not perfect. But he’s a damned good coach in many respects and has done a lot of good work with this club. The level of vitriol he receives is extremely unwarranted, in my estimation.

            • Dave says:

              AV has a history of leaning on vets, for better or for worse.

              • Chris F says:

                To an extent, yes. But at the expense of youth development?

                I think not. He’s given Vesey and Buchnevich immediate responsibility and ice time. Similar to how he relied on Hayes right away. His approach to Kreider and Miller, while tough, seems to be paying huge dividends. He’s given Skjei an opportunity.

                I think the case is pretty strong that AV knows what he’s doing with the kids.

              • Chris A says:

                Yeah, that’s a bit of a bogus narrative Dave. Vancouver had zippo in terms of prospects while AV was there.

                That one long hit piece that was floating around when AV left Vancouver was built around the premise that Zack Kassian and Cody Hodgson were ready made superstars until AV destroyed their careers.

                If you believe that is the case you might as well say that the reason Dan Goneau and Christian Dube weren’t perennial all stars was simply because Colin Cambell wouldn’t play them.

            • paulronty says:

              Damned good is not damned good enough.

          • Rod Seiling's Twilight Zone says:

            We don’t see the whole iceberg. The success this team has had under AV is due as much to mental toughness and team chemistry as it is to talent. Unlike Torts, AV wants that critical element to develop by and through his players, rather than through him. And for that, he relies on veteran leadership, including players like TG & Girardi. What appears to be sheer stubbornness may well be due to what he thinks the locker room needs as much if not more than what he wants to see on the ice.

            • Ranger11 says:

              That’s how I feel too. None of us know what goes on in that locker room. So the guy leans on his veterans. Many coaches do and for the fans that say he don’t trust kids why is Vesey and Buch on the top lines then. No matter what guys like us say good about AV we’ll always get thumbs down by the AV haters. That’s fine, I just want to win. I just feel bad for Mcilrath cause AV ruined his confidence, made him skit in the corner with a dunce cap, took his car from him and literally tore apart his whole family. Lol

              • SalMerc says:

                Or – maybe the kid is just not NHL material yet, as proven by 29 other teams not taking a bite on the waiver wire.

          • perry says:

            Let’s remember that this is a coach who has brought two teams to the Stanley Cup finals and the Rangers to Conference Championships. I wonder if we need to give him a tad more credit for being able to coach, MAYBE

          • paulronty says:

            Actually, it’s not even about his being unwilling, he has to play it safe & not take many risks. He’s got what I called “doubter’s disease” in my practice. That’s why it takes him forever to pick a team or find his lines. It’s part of his dynamics & people like this are the hardest to change. When you talked about putting people in a position to succeed, it reminded me of Eric Staal & how the same happened to him. He’s doing alright in Minny, isn’t he?

      • Ranger11 says:

        Yeah man I heard AV called all the other coaches and told them not to grab Mcilrath so he could continue to ruin his career. I tell ya those coaches really stick together. Lol

    • ken says:

      please, enlighten me to the upside that McLlrath has! 29 GM’s could have had him for nothing and they all passed! that’s how much upside they think he has!

  11. Swarty says:

    Totally agree that as an employer you want to put people in positions to succeed.

    DMAC has cleared so he will get some solid ice time at Hartford and will hopefully show the Rangers that he can succeed if given the chance.

    Seven games is a small sample to evaluate pretty much anything but I am not sold on Holden at least how he been utilized thus far. To be fair he is over his head and that runs contrary to the “success” premise.

    And, I am sure Gorton knows that the D is shaky at best when you trot out Holden is the 1R Dman on his off side.

    There is a lot of hockey to be played and likely some injuries to overcome (and there has already been a fair amount) so having depth is good.

    But unfortunately the Ranger depth is at the bottom in both the D and the forwards.

  12. Ray says:

    There are some defensemen that can switch sides and not really lose anything and others that dramatically fall off. I think AV is confusing a willingness to play the wrong side (which Holden has shown) with an aptitude to do so.

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      Any player in the NHL is willing to play the offside…. they go where the coach tells them. Holden isn’t there because Staal or McDonagh refuse to report to the right side.

      He’s there because for some strange reason AV likes him there.

      • paulronty says:

        And that strange reason is………..

      • Ray says:

        That’s probably right, BUT different players conduct themselves differently. There’s grumbling here and there and some players just make the coach more comfortable ordering them around.

  13. ScottishCharlie says:

    The defense going forward –

    Bobby B – Walt
    Paulronty – Jerry
    Dave – McIlrath


  14. amy says:

    go get’em nick!!

  15. Pas44 says:

    Not For Nothing…
    Henrik starting again tonight… didn’t he fade towards the end last year?

    • ScottishCharlie says:

      It seems a good game to play Raanta.

    • Benny Blanco says:

      I wouldn’t worry. Like all the anti McIlrath people say, AV is a stone-cold genius with his nightly roster. It’s not like he screwed up his goalie situation in Vancouver with Luongo and Corey Schneider, forcing the team to trade Schneider for less than his worth while alienating Luongo…oh wait….

      Vigneault’s attitude towards playing Raanta is only slightly better than how Torts & Vigneault viewed playing Marty Biron. To conclude: this team is far better with Nick Holden & Tanner Glass playing every night, and we are all stupid for daring to think otherwise.

      • paulronty says:

        LOL!!! AV is always coaching on the edge of desparation, even 7 games into the season. He used his Ouija board & it came up Lundqvist. Man, did he screw that Canuck goalie situation up really good.

    • Richter1994 says:

      Played World Cup too. I am ok with tonight but will he play again tomorrow night too?

      Raanta should have gotten the Yutes game last week. Shakes head.

  16. Chris F says:

    Hats off to the person who just took the time to scroll through and click thumbs down on every single one of my comments.

    • paulronty says:

      Really??? Wasn’t me, I can’t even see them, but hey just ignore that dude, it’s probably that guy that has more faces on here than Dr. Lao.

      • Chris F says:

        Oh, it doesn’t bother me. I just find it a bit hysterical that someone would do that. And I know it was definitely one person because within the span of a couple minutes each of my comments increased by precisely 1 thumbs down. Even a comment where I simply corrected a typo I had written in the preceding comment.

        Good stuff.

  17. Pas44 says:

    AV Coaching Record

    1197 – 2015


    He is a winning coach!

    • Pas44 says:

      sorry at work and typing to fast… 1997 – 2015

      Hasn’t missed the playoffs for 8 years

    • paulronty says:

      I think you conveniently missed another FIRED. Hey man, fantastic, I didn’t know he was so good, a regular Hall Of Fame Coach. Hey, how many Cups does he have?

      • Pas44 says:

        I hear ya, you have a point. Any player or coach that doesn’t get you to the top of the mountain doesn’t rank on your list.

        I am just wondering how many teams who have been as good as AV’s have in their rankings can honestly say that could have been champions if they only had a different coach.

        I think AV has been hard headed, may have been a little hard on younger players too, but so far, he is a good coach…

        but your point is valid

        I do however think Dan Marino is great and worthy of the HOF.

        • paulronty says:

          Like I said he’s the Roger Neilson of his time. Only lousy team he inherited was Montreal & they canned him toute de suite.

      • joe719 says:

        How many does DMAC have? I know, childish, but I’m in a good mood today! (;

    • Richter1994 says:

      ok, so with all those great teams, then how come I have as many Cups as he does?

  18. Ranger11 says:

    I’m. It sure why he’s there either other then like you said, there’s not many options. We’re not exactly loaded with great D men. I guess the staff sees something in Holden that they feel he will be able to come around and be the guy for the job. I just keep thinking about when AV first got here and we never looked so bad on D then we did the first almost full quarter of that season. We also had a guy that season that couldn’t cut it for other teams and we were giving a shot in Stralman. That’s the season we were giving up 9 goals to the Sharks and something like 20 goals in 3 or 4 games, you get the point. Well this season we’re not really giving up a ton of goals and our forwards are helping out which is leading to wins right now. I realize that can easily change but maybe they’re thinking he’s gonna be fine by then. Don’t forget Stralman spent a few games in the press box and look where him and that team ended up that year. This is not that I’m saying Holden is great or what AV should or should or shouldn’t do. I’m just taking a guess at what they may be thinking. Maybe they’re saying new system for Holden and they think he will be fine.

  19. Rjcy says:

    Cant believe I am allowing myself to be lured in again (every time I think I’m out they pull me back in), but re DMac maybe this will move us towards conclusion (for now….LOL).
    I don’t believe any of my fellow DMac fans on this site think he is the next Larry Robinson or Scott Stevens. I think our enthusiasm for him and our disappointment in his treatment is so intense because we believe he is a young, still developing player, who is adequate at the very least (I would even say competent), and who brings a component to this team which we believe remains necessary even in 2016 and which we believe remains sorely lacking.

    To start, those who dont share those two last beliefs will obviously differ with us, and for good reason. I guess there could be those who share our beliefs but feel he isnt or won’t ever be that guy, but that doesnt seem the prevailing basis for the counterview. Bottom line: cmon men/women, we are all NYR fans, we can differ with each other, even intensely, lets just not hate (each other)!

    • paulronty says:

      Don’t worry man, I once said on another site that a certain D-man would play in the NHL but it would take a while. I got ridiculed every day by one guy in particular. It took 3 years but that dude did play in the NHL & so will McIlrath, next year with another org that signs him in the offseason. I look forward to it because he’s going to do alright & I’m going to be very happy for such a classy dedicated kid.

    • Egelstein says:

      Exactly. DMac detractors like to paint it sometimes as though those of us who thought he deserved a chance are propping him up as the RHD1 of the future.

      Not the case. Those of us who thought he deserved a chance believe that in THIS roster, TODAY, he is one of the six best defenders. Probably the fifth or sixth…but still, that he is in that group outside of the fantasy land created within the confines of AV’s thick skull. The same dude who justified Tanner Glass being a regular in the lineup for #moargritz just ran a defender out of town who not only brings that BUT also had a rightful place in the lineup skill-wise in comparison to the group of players he was competing with. (Let’s also not forget Clendening – the second best right handed defender on the team – is sitting in the press box too.)

      And then McIlrath handles it in the best way possible, blaming himself for not doing well enough. That’s a maturity some of the vet anchors on the defense don’t even have; we don’t hear “I wasn’t good enough” except from the one guy who was but puts it all on himself (McD). We hear “I’m working hard and focused on next year”. There is a difference there to me – it means the coach isn’t doing his job well and letting them know they weren’t good enough. The coach certainly isn’t holding them equally accountable.

      Part of the reason I haven’t commented much since the waiving, frankly, is that I get pissed off just thinking about it!

  20. Rjcy says:

    …oh yeah, and Holden is just a 7D spare, servicable guy at best, being asked to play the role of a regular. Silly

    • paulronty says:

      Rumor has it that they are still laughing in Colorado at getting a 4th for a washed-up 29 year ols slug. Geez, he’s almost as old as Girardi!!!!!

  21. SalMerc says:

    Emerson Etem was waived today. What a great player he could have been under AV as well. Another guy AV never gave a chance.

    WILL YOU GUYS STOP! Play hard, score goasl, be a good teammate, you play, other wise shut up and get to the pressbox.

  22. Richter1994 says:

    I think that Holden should be in street clothes, then he’s guaranteed not to fail.

  23. AvsFan says:

    Holden played zone for most of last year with Colorado. Struggles went beyond the system. Never matched up well against top competition.