May
17

A Quick Word on Coaches

May 17, 2018, by

Three of the four coaches still in the playoffs, and Peter Laviolette.

It has been an interesting spring for Rangers fans who have in recent years become accustomed to the hockey season lasting until around Memorial Day Weekend (and sometimes beyond).  Instead, the Blueshirts are at work off the ice, planning a rebuild that will hopefully serve as the foundation for another decade-plus of sustained playoff success and contention (and hopefully, the ultimate prize).

Yet it feels as though that process can’t really begin until one massive blank is filled in: the Head Coach.  But what if I told you that it doesn’t really matter who’s behind the bench on opening night come October?  Allow me to explain.

Let’s start by looking at the teams remaining in the NHL playoffs, and specifically who their head coaches are: Tampa Bay (Jon Cooper), Washington (Barry Trotz), Winnipeg (Paul Maurice) and Vegas (Gerard Gallant).  All four have very typical NHL head coach pedigrees, and Jon Cooper is the only one among them who hasn’t worked for another NHL team.  None of these coaches have won a Stanley Cup previously.  Do any of them give their team a significant edge in a single game or playoff series?  I would argue no.

Then there’s the fact that coaches – all coaches – have flaws and blind spots.  Jon Cooper is doing exactly what sent many Ranger fans into fits of rage on a near-nightly basis: he’s playing Dan Girardi on the top pair, alongside Victor Hedman.  Yes, Dan Girardi is still bad (though he’s played somewhat better in Tampa’s system than he did the last three seasons with the Rangers).  Over in Las Vegas, Gerrard Gallant is heaping nearly 23 minutes per night on Deryk Engelland.  Barry Trotz’s opinion of an optimal lineup includes Tom Wilson playing with Alexander Ovechkin (it’s worked well enough, right?).  Paul Maurice…well, Paul Maurice has a supremely talented team.  The Jets’ roster is littered with so much talent that it’s almost fool-proof.

Despite the questionable decisions described above, each of the four remaining teams have a great chance of winning a Stanley Cup.  The reason that’s the case is because hockey is ultimately a game decided by some combination of skill, luck and goaltending.  If those three things come together at the right time and in the right place, pretty much anyone can coach a team to a Stanley Cup.  Don’t believe me?  I’ve got two words for you: Dan Bylsma.

Of course I’m exaggerating slightly.  Coaches need to get their players to buy in to a team concept, to trust one another and to play in a cohesive system.  They must adjust their game plan when the opponent figures it out.  And in the case of the Rangers, their next coach must understand how to identify, nurture and develop talent.

My point in all this is that, while I understand the frustration with Alain Vigneault that boiled over in recent years (it was absolutely warranted), I think that Ranger fans often too singularly focused on the coach as the reason for the team’s woes.  So let this be a caution to all that AV’s replacement likely isn’t going to have all of the answers.  He almost certainly isn’t going to be perfect.  Luckily, it may not matter very much.

74 comments

  1. Richter1994 says:

    Rob, this “debate” has gone on from the beginning of sports time, how much impact does a coach have on the team’s performance.

    Looking in our backyard and from direct experience, look no further than the 2011-12 Rangers. Hardly a talented team of players, most of them were young but hard working players. Certainly not the pedigree of a “Cup team.”

    BUT, they totally bought into Torts that year. They would skate through a 6 foot wide cement wall for him. They played a relentless style of hockey that opponents could not match on a nightly basis. They were all over the ice. But they could not sustain it and simply ran out of gas against the Devs in the ECF.

    That was a team that believed in their coach and what he was implementing as a system. They played it to perfection until their will drained at the end.

    Now, fast forward to AV. IMO, he lost the TB series in 2015 and the Ottawa series in 2017, not to mention at least one playoff game in the Montreal series. He started the decline of the team once Stralman was let go. The guy was most successful in 2013-14 as the new coach with no personnel input. It was only when he got some say in personnel that it went downhill.

    It was HE who lobbied for Tanner Glass, a totally useless player in this NHL, and the Rangers accommodated. So he was an advocate of “grit” but then reamed Kreider when he stuck for McD, who was run by Stamkos in the playoffs. Total inconsistent patterns for a coach. You can’t be “old school” nd then not support your players when they carry it out. Which is why Kreider hated AV from that point on.

    AV lost the room, not this past year, but prior to this year. The Rangers had a cake walk getting to the ECF in 2017 and could not even beat a bad Ottawa team, again, because of the Rangers’ coach.

    So the bottom line is that coaches may not win games but they can certainly lose games for their teams. So yes, coaches matter. If they didn’t then the players would just coach themselves during games. Coaches manage games for their players and they are supposed to dictate the direction the players are to take. AV sent his players straight to hell and here we are.

    • Mintgecko says:

      I remember how once the playoffs started the Rangers were getting beat up back then. Chris Neil was a bully in that first series, that team didn’t have the spunk or team grit like LV showed so far. It was maybe it was a different time but if Neil was on the other side than he would have been delt with because after game 1 the Knights stopped taking crap from anyone. Btw that fiasco in 2012 finally ended in like game 6 when Prust had to drop the gloves on him which just felt forced. That alone made me forget about any team buying into what Torts was preaching or go “tough” they use to be. They literally got by with dumb luck and riding Hank to the ECF. In the Caps series they were bullied as well, that team was never meant to last more than 1-2 seasons.

      AV and the 2015 NYR team would have ran through the 2012 team without a problem.

      • Richter1994 says:

        Dumb luck? The whole season?

        What I remember, as a fan, was that no matter the deficit they were facing in a single game, that they were never out of it and that I never gave up on that game because of the players on the ice.

        That team was as tough as any Ranger team I know of because of their relentless play and their will to never pack it in. You take their will and give it to the 2013-14 Rangers and we have a Cup.

    • Bloomer says:

      Hopefully another upandcoming team in the east will grab AV, Richter. Alaina could coach that team to the bottom and leave behind a smoking ruin like he did in Vancouver and New York.

      • DanGirardisGhost says:

        I don’t understand you guys, I really don’t. First off—we outplayed Ottawa in that series and lost on a few bad bounces, but our team on ice has been worse and worse each year since the cup run, and the GM makes those moves not the coach. You guys glorify Torts but for as much as I loved the personalities, that team could barely skate or pass and it squandered the best years of the best goalie on earth’s career (dont you remember Ovi quotes like ‘we lost not to a team but to one man…’). When AV came in he brought HOCKEY to New York and suddenly we could break out and not have to win EVERY game 1-0 or 2-1, and he deserves credit for that. We won the presidents trophy in 2015 and yeah they ghosted in game 7, but let’s also not forget that we’ve never had an elite player other than Hank, and in all these big elimination games our top forwards went invisible…Tampa in game 7, Ottawa in 6, LA in 5. I’m not saying AV doesn’t have a huge stake in that—heavy lies the crown—but you guys on the boards have an absurd revisionist narrative and you glorify an era where I would argue a different coach could have gotten us a cup and then you perpetually attack a coach who took essentially the same roster that couldn’t make the playoffs to the finals, and then nearly back again. I agree that it was time to make a change bc every coach has a shelf life, and AV is better for veteran teams, but wow…you guys really forget what it was like to go down 2-0 and know the game was over (and please don’t hit me with offensive stats on this season, where we handed AV a terrible roster and THEN everyone got hurt and then traded). Also, Dan Girardi had a good year with Tampa and you should be writing about how Cooper is such a good coach that he got an F’ing steal in a True Blue work horse anchor defenseman who’s beloved in every locker room he goes in bc does whatever the team asks him to do and he coached him to success WE paid for. He’s not a top pair defender but when he was on the 2nd pair he was doing 17-19 minutes a game of great work on one of the best teams in the east. Meanwhile, we blew up the defense you guys hated and signed the guys YOU GUYS WANTED and our defense is now in shambles while we pay him to go try to win a cup so we can get a better draft pick. You guys are perpetually off the mark, and I tip my hat to the level of delusional stubbornness you have around your narratives. Yeah, bring back torts please bc I really wanna get Donald brashear back on the squad and the coach who made everyone who wore our sweater hate hockey. Sickkk.

        • Johnny Red says:

          I agree with you 100% these guys chewed Girardi up and spit him out! They think the Corsi and other stuff is everything when it’s not! Can it be a small part yes, but it’s not the only way.

          • Richter1994 says:

            Corsi or not, Girardi was an atrocious D man the last couple of years here.

            Just because I love him for who and what he is does not give Dan a perpetual pass on earning his playing time here.

            And if you and other defenders of Dan do not know the difference between Dan playing here with this team and playing in TB with that team, then I do not know what to tell you, because then it’s mixing apples and oranges and saying that we let this great D man go to Tampa is a sham.

            The only D man that should not be on TB and should be here is Stralman. Not Girardi and not McD, but Stralman.

        • Egelstein says:

          It’s okay, we don’t understand your way of thinking, either. 🙂

          Case after case has been made on this blog, with really good points, data (we know Johnny, DATA BAD!), and backup. The other BSB has similarly done the work. As have most of the other NYR blogs, which are in my opinion lesser quality, but to each their own. The main group of folks who write about hockey regularly and who propped up AV the last couple seasons were the beats and generic NHL.com fluff piece generation types, and even Homer of All Homers Larry Brooks had enough about halfway through last year. It is a very simple fact that the press that had access to AV favored him because he was never, ever a jerk to him. In return, they lobbed him softball after softball. When they did come within the vicinity of asking him to justify one of his many boneheaded decisions, they did so gently enough that he could regurgitate some canned crap about the process and execution, and when he was feeling especially saucy, throw one of his better players under the bus as well for some extra flare.

          His system was bad, somehow his wizardly coaching appeared to lead to less understanding of how to try and execute it with each passing year, and it is not a coincidence at all that when he was given input on roster decisions and they switched over fully to his system and started executing it more to his liking (2014-15), he got his lunch stolen regularly by other coaches. His offense was better, if far too pass-happy…but the forwards/forward depth were better, too. The defense was so much worse due to the system that it just did not matter. Sprinkle in refusal to adjust to simple counters like the neutral zone trap, and voila! You’ve a nice batch of hot garbage you just baked, there. Girardi looks better because he is playing zone, and that’s really all there is to it. That AV never saw that his system was bleeding high danger shots, wearing out his defenders, and wearing out his goalie…sorry, he didn’t see those things because he chose not to. That would mean his beloved philosophy was flawed, which just couldn’t be true! It’s like how the triangle really has only worked in the NBA with a couple of really stacked teams…you have no business even trying it if you don’t have the right personnel and personnel depth. Same is true of a man/overload defensive scheme. It was actually comical to me at times that AV would then compound the situation by taking a shine to players who aren’t above average in agility and quickness, which that system demands. He literally showed a habit of not understanding his own systems.

          The Rangers should have beaten Ottawa, hands down, and the reason they did not was not even remotely close to as simple as “a few bad bounces”. The Kings series is the only one during AVs tenure for which that claim could be made with a straight face.The deployment was a mess, all Ottawa did for large stretches was loiter in the neutral zone which actually works against AV’s system, he lost his best players on the bench in the worst moments, and he clearly had already lost the room by then. I mean, for crying out loud, this man had Glass, Staal, and Holden on the ice for how many goals against? Not because everyone else was gassed and it was their turn to give the quality players a breather, mind you – he was intentionally putting them out in crunch time because, in his estimation, those were his lockdown guys. What does that do for the morale of the other clearly better players? For every Grabner, there were three other guys this system/AV’s deployment choices were wrecking.

          AV should have been dismissed before he left the building after the series finale, and that he wasn’t is on the front office. That he learned not one thing, came back with his ego and hubris as big as ever last season, and picked up right where he left off trying to jam square pegs into round holes…all on him. Last year, simply put, was when the front office finally decided that their friend had to go. Finally time to put Ol’ Yeller down. End of story. They are not without fault, and I don’t know why the few folks still boosting AV seem to assume that those of us who had enough of his shenanigans long ago automatically think the front office did everything right. They clearly did not, including giving him players like Glass, Paille, McLeod, and others, who anyone should know are detrimental to the on-ice product in today’s NHL.

          I can forgive – even admire – a coach who is trying everything they can to figure out the flaws of an imperfect roster and avoid them by playing to the tangible strengths that are there, yet the result still is lacking. AV didn’t ever do that – in Vancouver, or in NY. I’m less familiar with his MTL days, but they don’t look too inspiring on paper. This is a man who takes credit for a pizza, but all he really does is show up in the kitchen five minutes before it is done, and take it out of the oven. If he gets another roster that is near-primed to start making runs, like he did in VAN and NYR, I’m almost certain he will do well again…for a while.

          My advice to his next front office, though: when the milk starts to smell bad, toss it. Don’t wait until the lumps start forming to be sure.

          • Emile the Cat says:

            Thumbs up… liked the pizza analogy!

          • Walt says:

            Did E3 change his handle? What nonsense, was this the same team I watched, and hated for the way it was mishandled? Your post is right on the money, 100%, and well worded my friend, as usual!!!!!

            • Bloomer says:

              No Walt…E3 is busy putting birdies with his old buddy AV.

              Actually, I hope eddie comes back when the puck drops next fall. So much had happened since he left. Where are you Eddie!!!

              • Walt says:

                Bloomer

                That was meant to be a joke. Like you, E3 needs to come back in order to get a different view, although I suspect he won’t defend the next guy like he did AV!!!!!!

          • Richter1994 says:

            I feel so proud of you right now, lol.

            May 29, 2015 at approx 10PM I was screaming for AV’s head.

      • Richter1994 says:

        LOL, I like that Bloomer.

        I keep saying that I hope Jerry Jones lives to be 150 so he can keep being the GM for the Cowboys, as I am a huge Giant fan, lol.

    • Rich S says:

      Richter…….Spot on comment!!!!
      ”He started the decline of the team once Stralman was let go. ”
      I thought I was the only one who realized this……
      But we need to give credit as well to morons sather and gorton for allowing this to happen!!!!!!!

      • Hatrick Swayze says:

        No, you’re not the only one who’s thought that. It’s been mentioned a multitude of times on this blog alone. Should try listening to voices other than the ones in your head…..

      • Richter1994 says:

        Hey pal, I do not know the deal with these questionable personnel moves, but my only guess is that AV reached the SCF in his first year and Sather drooled all over himself in love with his coach, giving him carte blanche.

        That’s all I got on this.

    • gene4240 says:

      Brother…Add the misuse of Keith Yandle to the list that season…

  2. Reenavipul says:

    The thing I’ve heard that rings true is a *great* coach adds 10% to a point total, while a bad one costs you up to 30%. Nobody goes out of their way to hire a bad one, it’s just either a bad fit or a Peter principle thing.

    Carolina next season will be interesting to say the least.

    • Walt says:

      Reen

      Great post, we lost at least 30% under Clarabelle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Egelstein says:

      I fully agree with this, and have said similar things quite frequently in recent years. A great coach can’t make a bad team great, but a bad coach can stunt a great team pretty significantly. I do think in all sports, personal relationships muddy the hiring waters a bit too often. My theory is that is one of the biggest culprits behind unintentional bad hires – they let the fact that they respect the coach on a personal level from working with and/or seeing their success in the past take precedence over the fact that they really may not be the right fit. To be fully fair, I was completely fine with AV’s hiring. I never blame them for hiring him in the first place. My alarms started going off when he started getting out-coached and refused to adjust the strategy or the system to the strengths of the roster. Hindsight is 20/20 of course, but it took the front office about two years longer than many of us fans to figure out that he was no longer a fit, and I just can’t imagine that it was not influenced by their personal relationships. Hard to fire a friend.

    • Reenavipul says:

      The important thing nowadays with coaching beyond what others here have written quite well is that not only do they have to get the players to buy in, *they* have to buy in on what the GM is selling.

      A good coach needs to have 1 foot in the GM camp in order to look at the roster and have multiple plans to work with what he thinks the GM wants, even before he asks.

  3. Tooth says:

    Jon Cooper is doing exactly what sent many Ranger fans into fits of rage on a near-nightly basis: he’s playing Dan Girardi on the top pair, alongside Victor Hedman. Yes, Dan Girardi is still bad (though he’s played somewhat better in Tampa’s system than he did the last three seasons with the Rangers.

    You sir are a douche bag who does not know more than proven NHL coaches, lets rephrase that, proven successful coaches, like last 4 standing coaches multiple times.
    Girardi is and was a class act, is obviously way better than your very amateur opinion would estimate.
    Your arrogance borders on ignorance….
    Just report the news and do it well….

    • Egelstein says:

      This is Tooth.

      Tooth calls people names because of their opinions regarding hockey.

      Tooth is acting like a know-it-all himself, while accusing others of arrogance.

      Tooth has not backed up his hot-air with anything even remotely resembling evidence or logic.

      Don’t be like Tooth.

  4. Walt says:

    Who says a coach won’t win games, and or championships for teams?

    Expansion St Louis Blues went to the finals three years under this coach.

    Montreal won 5 cups over an eight year period under him.

    The Pens won their first cup under him.

    Detroit won their first in some twenty years under him.

    He helped put together the Blackhawks team that won a few cups.

    Yeah, Scotty Bowman didn’t make a difference. AV couldn’t carry Scotty’s jock strap, what a disaster he was!!!!!!!!

    • Richter1994 says:

      Walt, AV was fine his first year. But then got full of himself and then he went rogue.

      Lundqvist and Luongo made this guy’s coaching career. AV should be forever grateful to both of them.

      Tell me that the Canucks should not have won the Cup.

      • Walt says:

        can’t argue against you here. the guy had sooooooooo much talent, but couldn’t ever lose on the deal!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Johnny Red says:

        They should have, but was it A.V.’s fault they couldn’t score goals in game 7? Yes he should have been fired but PLEASE let’s not treat him like he’s the worst coach in NHL history

        • Richter1994 says:

          “but was it A.V.’s fault they couldn’t score goals in game 7?”

          Ah yes it was, and I will tell you why:

          1) Up until Game 7 in that series the Rangers scored 3 goals in 3 home games, 2 in Game 1. Game 6, they scored 6? How did they score those goals? Go to the net AND make Bishop move side to side, Ben’s big weakness. Any goalie his size can play goal if the opponents do not make him move. You end up shooting the pucks into him. They had to make him MOVE.

          I even told my friend at MSG before the game that if the Rangers did not make him move side to side AND did not score within the first 10 minutes of Game 7 (after torching the guy in Game 6) then the Rangers would not win the game. How come I KNOW this and the COACH doesn’t know it? The Rangers were lofting softballs at Bishop all game long, really never coming close to scoring a goal that would matter in the game.

          2) That freaking line up. It’s Game 7, the most important game of the year and he puts out a line up that was destined to fail. McD was not out for warm ups because his ankle would not “freeze” correctly so he could play with the injury. But AV plays him anyway. I was there at the game and McD never went past the offensive zone blue line because he couldn’t skate.

          Not only does he leave a battered player in the line up, he decides that Hunwick is going to play as a “safety net” for McD. This on top of injuries to Girardi and Staal. Hunwick plays the first 4 minutes of the game and sees the bench the rest of the game, taking up a line up spot for nothing.

          Then, the game winning goal scorer for Game 6, Sheppard, is benched in favor of Tanner Glass who hardly plays that game.

          So, in reality, almost a third of the Rangers line up, for the most important game of the year, a win or go home game, is rendered useless.

          So now the response is “all those injuries.” Except, they were the same injuries for players that tattooed the Lightening just 2 days earlier in TB.

          Nah, the coach lost the series for them, by not putting them in the best position to succeed. It was not going to happen but I wanted him fired after that game.

          The rest is history.

          • Ray says:

            In case this isn’t clear, the Rangers dressed 11 forwards and 7 defensemen. But I also think there is a psychological effect. Bench McDonagh and the team needs a new leader, which any team can find in a Game 7. Play an injured McDonagh and rely on him to do what he cannot.

            • Richter1994 says:

              Agreed it’s tough to bench your Captain, but for God’s sakes the man couldn’t skate, in a season elimination game.

              I would have scratched McD and played Hunwick and Sheppard. At least they would have had a fighting chance.

              • Ray says:

                Same here. Funny, given the thumbs up for you and thumbs down for my agreement, my comment was clearly misinterpreted. My last sentence “Play an injured McDonagh and rely on him to do what he cannot.” had an implied “if you’re clueless”.

      • Ray says:

        Seriously, Lundqvist was a top line goalie 2005-2013, but he simply was never any good during AV’s tenure. AV’s shortcoming was not seeing until it was too late that the problem with the Rangers was #30. And you guys still haven’t seen it.

        I’ll admit that I would not have yanked Hank in the Ottawa series, but time has clearly shown that Raanta is indeed the better tender.

        And no, I don’t vote him into the HOF – a first line goalie for eight years, utterly superb in two, not quite enough especially with the mediocrity that followed it.

        • Egelstein says:

          “…during AV’s tenure.” Aaaaand, there’s the rub. One hell of a coincidence that Hank’s numbers weren’t as good after his coach installed a complete dumpster fire of a defensive system as he entered his mid-30s and understandably may not be as immensely physically skilled as he once was, innit?

          First ballot HOF, not even a question. Greatest goalie the organization has ever seen, and you’re over here trying to disrespect his legacy? Go root for Arizona if you’ve got the hots for Raanta so much, and I’ll send you condolences when Raanta doesn’t even sniff the HOF. Dude is a part time goalie. He shattered his GP high water mark on a campaign last season with 47. Get real. This is what happens when superstars age; they sometimes aren’t as good as guys in their primes. That said, as much as Arizona’s defense is not necessarily known to be outstanding, it was leagues better than the Rangers last season – they were 19th there, whereas NYR was second-last only to the equally putrid defensive prowess of the Islanders. I bet it gets uglier if you look at the danger zones, but that’s just my assumption. So you’re parading around a guy who has yet to play a true full goalie season in his career, who is likely in his prime, behind a more protective defense, who actually only put up marginally better numbers than Hank, and with a lot less fatigue in play than Hank? Cool.

          I know Devils fans that have more respect for Hank’s body of work, because they don’t go overboard with their bias. 805 games and counting giving this organization his all, and Hank earned every penny of his contract and every provision in it. If you don’t like his contract now because he makes more than the arbitrary limit you have for a goalie’s salary in your head, fine. That’s your prerogative. It’s immovable unless he wants it to be movable, and he fully earned that. You’re crying in the rain. But to tarnish his sure-as-tomorrow’s-sunrise HOF career because you have decided you fancy the next guy on the street you see in goal instead? Wow.

          Wow.

          • Ray says:

            Here are some simple unvarnished numbers. There were five goaltenders who played at least three games in any one season for the Rangers during the last five years. I computed the five year save percentages for each of these tenders – so it includes Pavelec at Winnipeg, Talbot at Edmonton, Raanta at Chicago and Arizona.

            Raanta .92123
            Georgiev. .91843
            Talbot. .91810
            Lundqvist. .91732
            Pavelec. .90747

            Those numbers include everything. Raanta’s rookie year when his numbers were poor, Talbot’s struggles in Edmonton. Except for Chicago, time away from the Rangers did not mean a better defense in front of the goalie. In fact, Pavelec’s numbers were better with the Rangers than with Winnipeg — and this was the weakest Ranger defense.

            Another fact: IIRC (and if not this is very close), Lundqvist’s W-L record on deadline day 2014 was 22-20-3. Maybe NY stubbornness would have prevailed, but it is hard to see a team with a starting goalie like that not trading Callahan for draft picks instead of MSL. This was worse than his record this year. [The 2014 Rangers were in the playoff hunt because of their success when Talbot played.]

            ***********************

            End facts – begin interpretation.

            Hank ranks fourth out of five. Georgiev put up better numbers with a minor league defense in front of him – not only better than Hank’s numbers this year but better than Hank’s five year average.

            Please note what I have not said – that Talbot, Raanta, Georgiev are good. I have merely demonstrated that they have been more effective than Lundqvist over a long period of time.

            All you have is an innate belief that Lundqvist is incredible and a willingness to interpret all data in a way that makes Hank look good. For most of AV’s tenure, the Rangers had a great defense. [In 2013-2014, Talbot posted the second highest save percentage in NHL history among goalies who appeared in 20+ games and he is not a great goalie and he was not in some incredible zone. He had a great team in front of him.] Oh, but you say, all those high danger shots. Well, guess what? There were no high danger shots when the other guy was in net. All those so-called high danger shots were the result of the configuration (fronting) that Hank wanted. But when all is said and done, there NEVER was a dumpster fire.

            Please note the important fact that Hank has insisted on a defense that offers the opponents better shots with the benefit that he has the best chance to stop each individual shot. One certain result is that he looks as good as possible. But is it wise? The save percentage numbers say no.

            Last year, the Rangers should have made the Eastern finals and Tampa Bay missed the playoffs. The Rangers bought out Girardi and TB signed him. This year, the Rangers missed the playoffs and TB is in the Eastern finals. This is partly coincidence of course as the injury situations were reversed, but only partly. Dan Girardi is probably still a better defensemen than Kevin Shattenkirk ever will be.

            • Egelstein says:

              Goalie wins are the same as pitcher wins in baseball – pretty meaningless if applied strictly as an individual stat. Bad pitchers can have winning records, good pitchers can have losing records. Not quite sure what Hank’s 2014 mid-season record has to do with anything. It’s easy to cherry-pick a specific stat like that. Henrik has a significantly better career Quality Start % than Dominic Hasek. Hasek is actually below the league average threshold. What a bum! (Disregard the fact that the last year of Hasek’s career at age 43 was the first year that stat existed, so is the only one listed.)

              What do you think is gonna happen to those save percentages by the time Talbot and Raanta reach 36, if they are even starters the whole time from then until now? Bet they go down.

              Pull up a HERO chart, Shatty vs. Girardi. The narrative that Girardi prevents shots at a high rate is patently false. As is the narrative that Shatty doesn’t.

              We have discussed the concept of net side vs. fronting before. This is the one area of this discussion that I partially agree with you – I don’t know why they haven’t tried the same with the backups as Hank for a long stretch of games. Or heck, maybe they did and I didn’t notice it, and it just didn’t work. With that said and as I’ve noted before, on the flip side, I don’t think Benoit Allaire would be on board if there wasn’t something he sees there that he thinks is best to stay on that path. Either way, my faith in Allaire, which he has more than earned, dictates my ability to go with the flow on that one even if it isn’t quite as clear-cut to me.

              Part time goalies (with the exception of Talbot in EDM, as you noted, not great) vs. a work horse who has been in the playoffs nearly every year of his career during his prime. Sure, let’s compare these guys as equals using just one stat! Oh, and Sweden’s national team apparently thinks pretty highly of Hank as well. We must all be enamored by the Head and Shoulders glow that mane of his has; only you and a few others here in this blog readership group can see past it. Amazing! It’s like the black and blue vs. gold and white dress all over again, except only like 5% of the population sees gold and white. They must be correct.

              Ever look into career similarity scores on Hockey Reference? They’re kinda like HERO charts – they rarely lie if the sample is adequate. Hank’s closest career comp is some scrub by the name of Tony Esposito. (Who, coincidentally, shows Luongo as his closest comp…but noooo, AV hasn’t at all ridden his goalies to success. Nope.)

              Ranta…the legendary Jussi Markanen. Talbot…Freddy Andersen. Pavelec…Mike Dunham. Georgiev’s sample is too small to qualify, as is the same with using the simpler stats. When the league hasn’t seen much of a goalie, they don’t have much of a book on him, of course. I think it’s safe to say many skaters have studied Hank very intently for a very long while.

              I can’t dig into the high danger claim right now, but I would bet you a paycheck without looking that to say “no high danger shots” in the case of the backups is off-mark. By probably more than a wee bit.

              In any case, my main point of contention above was your HOF commentary. Absolutely unreal to me that anyone would even go there, simply because they’ve chosen to make a late-career goalie their scapegoat for all the woes of the team.

              • Ray says:

                First of all, I am old enough to remember the 2013-2014 season; from what is said here, I am one of the few. What does the 22-20-3 record on deadline day for Lundqvist mean exactly? Oh, it doesn’t necessarily say that much about Lundqvist. However, generally speaking what that record says to management is that we are not going to be in the playoffs this year and we need to see what we can get for Nash and Grabner. Because when your #1 goalie can’t post a winning record, there’s not much you can do. And Hank’s record this year was actually better than the 2013-2014 record when Gorton pulled the plug.

                Think about it. It took 93 points to make the playoffs in 2014 (Rangers had 96). With 47 points in the first 45 HL games, they needed 46 in the other 37 (backup games already played and future games).
                With a Pavelec as backup, the playoffs would have been completely out of reach. With an average backup, the Rangers would have needed a really strong finish.
                Maybe the stubborn Ranger front office would have gone for it anyway, but maybe not. Bottom line: Henrik Lundqvist was not good enough in 2013-2014 to get his team into the playoffs.

                And, and I doubt you remember this, Hank was even benched for a stretch in December because he just wasn’t playing well.

                Goalie wins are far more important than pitcher wins in baseball. Because the #1 goalie plays most of the games. If he doesn’t win, you don’t win.

                “Pull up a HERO chart, Shatty vs. Girardi.”
                Why exactly would I do this? I don’t believe in these charts. Success in hockey is determined by things easily measured and things hard to measure. The obsession with measurable things has not yet been justified. I see teams do ok by relying on Girardi.

                Raanta was not a part time goalie. In fact, he faced more shots than Hank did in 2016-2017 — or was Hank a part time goalie that year. Look, I am not saying that Talbot, Raanta, and Georgiev are better than Hank was in his prime. Just that they have done better in the last five years. If you wish to say they suck, or will in the future, whatever. Still better than Hank now.

                I don’t see the problem of using just one stat. One can judge pitchers by ERA and there is no reason why one can’t judge goal tenders by save %. Yes, there is a problem with using goalies on different teams, but we are talking Rangers here.

                I honestly don’t know what to make of the HOF. The standards are rather absurd. At one point in the 60s, five of the six teams had goalies who went to the Hall. OTOH, there have been about four after Billy Smith — so it got very hard, perhaps because the goals scored went way up. [Hank’s decline, BTW, was partially masked by an overall rise in save percentages.]. Guys like Vernon and Richter might have made the HOF in an earlier era.

                As to Lundqvist, I really don’t know what I think. I think his supporters are blind to the fact that he simply has not been a truly stellar goalie the last five years, but merely a solid one (and perhaps not even that this year). However, I won’t dispute 2005-2013. His rookie year and his well-deserved Vezina were outstanding seasons. And the other six, while not quite Vezina level, were a consistent body of work supporting HOF membership. And there’s the Olympic gold. Is that enough? I don’t know.

              • Egelstein says:

                I’m 36, Ray, not 8. LOL. I remember.

                See, you’re tossing advanced metrics out the window that paint a much more complete picture, and honing in on the simple stats that you can use to support your argument. I appreciate your effort, but this is like choosing to use an abacus when you can use a calculator instead. Similarity score, for example, it is rather complex. You get some anomalies as you work down those lists, for sure…but that’s not what it is built to do. Guy number 6 down the list is shown for fun, but it’s the first couple where the formula actually is pretty goddamned good. It takes into factor similar careers using a selection of vectors, not just similar (choose one stat to base a whole case on and insert here). If Raanta plays at a Vezina-consideration level for the next five years straight, his direct comp will be someone a hell of a lot better than Jussi Markanen.

                Again, HERO charts don’t really lie. If you look up the chart for Glass or McLeod…trash. Look up Crosby or McDavid…gorgeous. What you do come across frequently are HERO charts that break fan narratives. I was more than a little surprised myself to find out that Girardi was never actually a very above average defender, once I gained access to HERO charts. I saw him trying very, very hard, and it looked to me like he was breaking up scoring plays. What I wasn’t seeing is he wasn’t actually preventing shots very well. Opponents were still getting the shots off despite his lowering to the ice every other drive. Then I started watching him play more closely, and sure enough, sometimes he was actually making it worse by making the shot less predictable for the goalie and/or completely taking himself out of the play so that any rebounds were completely undefended. I thought by my eyes alone he was a more complete defender in his peak, but if the data doesn’t support it…then because the data didn’t support it, I started watching more closely and through a different lens…well, I was wrong. He wasn’t ever actually that significantly far above average.

                Save percentage tells you nothing about just the goalie. Wins tell you nothing about just the goalie. They tell you about how well the team and the goalie combined protect the back of the net. Back to baseball, a pitcher who has an immobile fielder who can’t get to balls that a better fielder could, that’s not an error. It counts as a hit. It affects the pitcher’s ERA when those hits bang in runs, or those batters end up scoring. Same with save percentage; it takes into account not one single bit that a three-on-one is different than a goal tapped in after five rebounds is different from Ovi being unstoppable from the dot is different from the goalie being screened is different from a deflection from two feet away, etc. etc. etc. These stats are rudimentary, and simply put, there is better data out there to try and truly understand and isolate the goalie. You have to want to do that though, first, and you don’t. You’re choosing to live in one dimension, when you could just as easily live in three dimensions. This is how we end up with a scapegoated HOF goalie still performing admirably, if not world-beating.

                Goalie wins and pitcher wins are relative; matters not how many games are played. I do agree with you philosophically – a hockey goalie is far more important to a hockey team than any one pitcher is to a baseball team. That has nothing to do with the fact that the basic vectors are truly team stats, not individualized as some of the advance vectors strive to achieve.

                I’m not sure where you got that shots stat from, but NHL.com disagrees. 16-17 featured 1650 for Scrubby Ol’ Henrik, 782 for The Lord and Savior Antti. Fun fact: Hank saw 737 shots in the 13-14 playoffs alone; 38 is Antti’s career playoff total. In fact, the most shots Antti has seen in a season was last season – again, an iron-man-like 47 games started – at 1,388. Hank has seen less than that precisely once. I get that Raanta was injured, and hey, Hank has been injured a couple times too. Point being, we still don’t really know who Raanta is. We know damn well who Hank is, and he simply is absolutely not a guy who has been dragging his franchise down for the last half decade. We can agree he isn’t at his peak right now. Maybe he has his Tim Thomas-esque rebirth in the next few years, maybe he doesn’t. He’s far from a bane on the team, however.

                All goalies have bad spells. Injuries can be the cause, and we all know hockey teams do anything they can to hide injuries. Maybe they have some personal shit to battle through. Maybe they’re so pissed off that their defense keeps letting opposing forwards stroll through the Golden Road completely uncovered that they can’t focus. Maybe it’s because their coach is so arrogant about their system that it can’t possibly be the system, and must be the goalie, so the goalie gets shat on in press conferences while the broken system remains (ahem, Alain). Etc. I’m not concerned with the few times in his career Hank has seen the pine briefly – warranted, or otherwise.

                Still not following your W-L tally in direct relation to the goalie in direct relation to selling off players who are easily moved and probably don’t have a future with the team long-term.

              • Ray says:

                Sure, save percentage is team-related as are wins. But what you are missing is that so is virtually every stat you can devise (except save percentage on shootouts). There may be a way to assess performance objectively, but so far I am convinced it has not been done.

                It is damn hard to compare Hank and Carey Price. But it is so much easier to compare Hank to Talbot or Raanta since those guys are playing with the same teammates. I am not comparing Hank to them because they are HOFers, but because I can compare without having to adjust for team differences.

                Here was the laugher for me. In 2015-2016, advanced goalie stats basically said that for that season, Hank was a better goalie than Gretzky was a center despite the fact that he received no Vezina consideration and failed to outperform his backup. They also said Steve Mason was a highly underrated goalie and Justin laughingly ranked him #9 on his next list (and that’s not a cherry-picked example but the only case where I openly disagreed with Justin).

                Raanta faced more shots in 2017-2018 than Hank did in 2016-2017, so I view calling him a part time goalie improper. Obviously, he was only a backup before last season.

                On why the 22-20-3 record is important: Why did JG decide to rebuild? Because the team was not going to make the playoffs. Why not? Because they had a bad record WHEN the decision was made.
                On deadline day 2014, when Sather had to decide whether to trade Callahan to San Jose for draft choices or to TB for MSL, what was the Ranger record. It was 33-26-3, a shade better than the 29-24-10 of Washington (who missed the playoffs) and 27-23-13 of the Devils (ditto). This was a team with no playoff spot assured. However, where did that record come from? It came from adding Hank’s 22-20-3, Biron’s 0-1, and Talbot’s 11-5. Note Holby’s record was 19-12-3, vastly better than Hank’s. Think about it – the Caps were 10-12-7 without Holtby, the Rangers 11-6 without Lundqvist. Change Talbot’s record to 8-8, still good for a backup on a .500 team, and the Rangers probably don’t give up two first rounders just to make the playoffs.

                There are facts that may be disagreeable but still unarguable. Did Lundqvist play well enough to win the Cup ever? No (because he didn’t). Did Niemi play well enough to win the Cup in 2010? Yes (because he did). Who was the goalie responsible for getting the Rangers into the playoffs in 2014? Cam Talbot

                Certainly history will rank Hank above Niemi and the betting line is that he will outrank Talbot as well. [not certain because a strong year next year could get a new contract and who knows what a career with McDavid and Draisatl will lead to. Talbot might win several Cups.]

              • Egelstein says:

                I don’t judge players by Cups. At all – not one single bit. Team achievement, end of story; no one player earns or loses their team a Cup.

                Season award accolades, eh…they’re not usually miles off, but they are subjective, and always, to some degree, a popularity contest. I’d rather just use the numbers.

                I’m not missing that most stats include team in some capacity, at all. I am choosing to hold those that try to narrow it down more in higher regard. Hell, blocked shots could be influenced by your teammate…what if he blows his coverage and you pick it up and then block a shot? Would have never gotten that block to your credit if your teammate hadn’t sucked a little, there. You can spin out as far as you like with these things, but the point remains that more data always paints a clearer picture than less data.

                Still not following your W-L tally in direct relation to the goalie in direct relation to selling off players who are easily moved and probably don’t have a future with the team long-term.

              • Ray says:

                I don’t really judge players by Cups either, but the fact remains that Esposito and Giacomin are the two most recent goalies in the Hall without a Cup. Voters do care!

                I believe in stats which speak to a player’s effect on whether a team wins or loses. I believe better stats are plausible; I just don’t think they have been found yet. While certain shots are more dangerous than others, it is clear from the data that no one knows how to classify high danger shots. For example, on a 2 on 1 break, how do you determine if the defenseman is providing enough assistance to make it an easy save or if he is just leaving the goalie out to dry?

                One more try on goalie records on deadline day. Basically on deadline day, almost every team decides to be a buyer or a seller. Nash got traded to Boston because the Rangers were selling and the Bruins were buying. The primary determination for each team is their W-L record AT THE TIME OF THE TRADE DEADLINE. Most of that W-L record (and generally the more favorable part) is the W-L record of the #1 goalie.

                On March 5, 2014, the NY Rangers had to make a critical decision. Were they sellers (deal Callahan for draft choices) or buyers (give up draft choices plus Callahan to get MSL)? They were a team looking to squeak into the playoffs and it was a tough call that many still disagree with.

                Well, at that point, the Rangers had played 62 games, 45 with Hank in net. It would seem very difficult to have a poor W-L record with Hank in net, but have a good enough W-L record to get int the playoffs. With hank at 22-20-3, you’d figure optimistically backups at 8-8-1, an overall record of 30-28-4, Sather realizes the playoffs are out of reach and he deals Callahan to San Jose.

                If Martin Biron does not retire, the Rangers don’t get anywhere near the playoffs that year. Henrik Lundqvist was not successful enough to get the Rangers into the playoffs.

                The Rangers finished strong and got to the SC Finals and so people conveniently forget that getting into the playoffs was not a foregone conclusion — and that the goalie who got them there was a certain Mr. Talbot and not Mr. Lundqvist.

                Yes, almost certainly Lundqvist will post better career numbers than Talbot – and I would never presume to assert that Talbot could have beaten the Penguins that year. But still the first step in the road to the Finals was due to the best single year a Ranger goalie has ever had.

                One last note: Talbot’s success surely was due to a large extent to a very fine defense in front of him, a defense unjustly overshadowed by Hank. And just maybe, if people realized how good that defense was, Anton Stralman would still be a Ranger. In fact, if TB can win the Cup this year, the principal credit may be due to Lundqvist, whose shining star let them acquire our players on the cheap.

        • Richter1994 says:

          Raymond, I am not good at posting charts, but there is a chart that shows all the playoff goalies’ performances over the past 10 years.

          All the goalies are basically in the same areas of the chart, except for one, all the way to right and on top of the list. I guess that I do not have to tell you who that is.

          So this incessant “opinions without facts” mantra that anti-Lundqvist fans have has gotten beaten to death.

          We get it, you and others think he’s over rated. Well all the stats relating to the top goalies prove you wrong.

          One of your best comments is how you treat every shot against the same, whether they are from center ice or within 3 feet of the net. Like it doesn’t matter. A shot on goal is a shot on goal.

          Priceless.

          • Ray says:

            Let’s compare numbers. I was looking at performance against 8,769 regular season shots over the last five years. In return, you mention a chart which of course I can’t find.

            Playoff performance is less useful IMO as it is based on less data and you don’t get to see what another goalie could do with the same team, but I’ll play the game.

            I am hardly going to create an extensive chart. So I did something a little ad hoc. First of all, I have not argued that Lundqvist was never a top goalie. So let’s agree to throw out all but the last five years. When it comes to playoffs, we are just talking about four years then. I don’t have time to compare all playoff goalies, so I just picked a tough one, Martin Jones. Jones had a save percentage of .9256 and Lundqvist .9234. So he lost to the first guy I compared him to — hardly a guy who stands head and shoulders above everyone else.

            Generally speaking, the critical problem with evaluating playoff data is that you cannot separate the goaltender from team defense – which for the Rangers has been quite good. I won’t deny him his triumph. He beat the Penguins in 2014, but a hot three game stretch does not prove immortality. He also was good last year against Montreal and fine in some other series as well. OTOH, he lost the Ottawa series last year and stunk against the Penguins in 2016. And while he was not to blame for losing to the Kings, neither did he find the magic which could beat them.

            Obviously shots on goal vary. But they also even out as each tender faces both hard and easy ones. Now I have no doubt that on balance Lundqvist faced a tougher mix of shots than Brodeur in say 2005-2006; the Devil defense was just better than the Ranger defense. But consider the following:

            2013-2018 Lundqvist faced 8769 regular season shots. 2013-2018 four other Ranger tenders faced 3751 shots. They played behind the same defense. That is too much data to suggest that Lundqvist faced tougher shots than the backups unless there was an explanation. And the explanation appears to be that Lundqvist is getting the shot mix he is asking for. You can’t give him points for that.

            Finally, what shot is tougher, one from 3 feet or center ice. Well, I am not sure. Let’s assume that the goalie has his eyes closed on the center ice shot. That may seem absurd, but it is the whole point of why high danger shots is a crap concept. Lundqvist wants to be in control. He wants to see every shot. He wants to see every play develop. He is better prepared to make each save than other goalies are because of how he insists the defense be configured. But the cost of that configuration is that the saves he is better prepared to make are also tougher.

            I understand this is tough for you to accept. Hank was an excellent goaltender and he still often looks like one. But open your eyes. What you have mostly seen these last five years is brilliant Hank performances behind a dumpster fire defense and mundane Talbot, Raanta performances behind a respectable defense — what’s wrong with this picture — and the backups actually give fewer goals.

            I may be unfair here. I don’t have an inside person. Were the Rangers fronting for Hank because he demanded it, because he expressed a preference, or because he wasn’t any good with the defense AV used with other tenders? But I can’t help but wonder if the Rangers could have been a really good team if they ignored his preference and I blame him for not letting me find out.

            • Richter1994 says:

              Raymond, first and foremost, whether I agree with you or not, excellent post. One of your best. So kudos.

              The backup goalie is almost always the fans’ favorite because they believe that the starting goalie should stop just about everything, that he’s getting paid to do just that.

              HOFamer Cam Talbot is doing ok out in Edmonton but he’s not the shut down goalie that people thought he was. And his forwards are light years better than the Rangers’ forwards. Draisaitl, the Oilers’ 2nd best forward, would be the #1 forward here and it would not be close. The D men, the Oilers have the edge.

              It’s too early to evaluate Raanta because it was only his first year as a starter in which he was hurt for a part of it.

              But that’s part of the deal, isn’t it? To weather the marathon that is the NHL season, by doing it year after year after year, like what Lundqvist has done.

              The stats don’t lie. The Rangers were at the bottom or near the bottom of every defensive category there is. Not only this year, but for the past several years.

              And I can’t buy the argument that is we paid a goalie $2M less than Lundqvist that the Rangers would be Cup champs, because he is the only reason why they were as successful as they were to begin with.

              I am not lying about that chart. It was posted on Blueshirt Banter about a month or so ago and I tried to post it here, but it never made it as the mods here did not approve it. So if anyone knows the chart that I am talking about and can post it here then I would appreciate it.

              And I disagree about the meaning of the playoffs, it means everything. AV has a great regular season record and no Cups coaching Cup worthy teams. It means everything.

              Thumbs up for your post even though I disagree.

              • Ray says:

                Thanks

                And I can’t buy the argument that is we paid a goalie $2M less than Lundqvist that the Rangers would be Cup champs, because he is the only reason why they were as successful as they were to begin with.

                Two issues here. First is money. I don’t care that much about it actually. Some players are overpaid, some are underpaid, and the key is not to make too many major errors. The Rangers can win with a high priced goalie, even a high priced backup goalie. What I want (fat chance this happens) is a new coach who is committed to giving Lundqvist and Georgiev lots of playing time and is open to the possibility that Georgiev is the better goalie — and plays the best defense in front of both of them. I want to get away from what Hank deserves and move toward what is best for the team.

                The second issue is “why they were as successful as they were to begin with.” No, no no. Honestly, I think that rookie Lundqvist was basically the best Lundqvist we ever saw — and a better tender than he has been of late. We saw that year how far Hank could take the Rangers when their personnel was otherwise weak. And it was to the playoffs, but not far. The Rangers of a few years back had a pretty good team.

                I believe you about the chart. However, there are lots of bad numbers about and I am inclined to discount what I can’t actually look at and think about.

                Comparing Ranger and Oiler D is tricky. I think the Oilers were awful in 2015-2016, worse than anything the Rangers have had except the final month. They were good Talbot’s second year and I really don’t understand this season. But I really believe Ranger D has been underrated.

              • Ray says:

                I can probably find the chart if you know the date.

              • Richter1994 says:

                The chart was about a month ago and it was tweeted by someone, don’t remember who.

                It was probably around the time the playoffs started.

              • Walt says:

                Ray

                “I want to get away from what Hank deserves and move toward what is best for the team”.

                That is what I had the biggest problem with the last coach, he didn’t play his best, but his favorites. I concur with that thought!!!!!!!!

                Let’s hope that we see this across the entire team, you EARN your time on the ice……..

              • Egelstein says:

                I know exactly the chart to which you refer, and I can’t find it either. This is largely due to the fact that SB Nation’s search feature is kind of garbage, haha.

    • Rich S says:

      Walt…..
      You know how I felt about AV…..worse than useless…….However the majority of the blame for the mess we are now in deserves to go to sather and gorton…..they are the ones who hired AV, let strallman walk, signed dan boyle, traded picks for eric stall and then let him walk, overpaid girardi, mark stall and lunquist and then let yandle and hagelin walk because we couldnt afford them!

      • Egelstein says:

        The front office guys certainly have not aced their moves by any stretch of the imagination, and absolutely deserve blame as well. That said, I also believe that – especially in these last two seasons – the talent on the team outweighed the results. That’s when my focus turns to the coaching. I also am more sympathetic to the concept that it’s more difficult for a GM to overhaul the roster than it is the coach to adjust the system/strategy/deployment. Those above were all blunders, indeed…but even teams that win Cups usually make some personnel mistakes along the way. Coaching mistakes are much easier to avoid, but the coach needs to have some semblance of self-evaluation.

      • Walt says:

        Rich

        Yes, yes, yes, on many counts that Sather made piss poor decisions.

        Having said that, Sather wasn’t behind the bench when Holden, and Staal were on the ice, with a lead, only to lose that lead, and have the best d-pair on the bench because the coach forgot them. Sather didn’t implement that farce of a defensive scheme, and have a poor skater like Dan, and Staal for that matter play man to man. They can’t skate, and it killed us toooooooooooooo many times, but old brickhead couldn’t think outside the box, and make an adjustment in game. He was too busy chewing his gum, and smiling like Zippy the chimp.

        I won’t defend management’s decisions, especially keeping the cow behind the bench two, three years too long. That is now history, and let’s see what JG can do now that he is in charge!!!!!!!!

  5. Peter says:

    It is hard to quantify and surely a topic where opinions will vary. Coaching deployment decisions have some impact, and the systems that are in place and whether they maximize or fit the skills of the team’s personnel can obviously impact a team’s overall performance. Where it tends to get overblown is when fans try to pin a single play or sequence on the coach alone. Then it would seem that the players involved have much more impact.

    I’d hate to say 10% this or 30% that, but surely a coach has an impact. A great coach or a terrible coach probably have more significant impacts on a team than the average competent coach.

  6. roadrider says:

    almost certainly isn’t going to be perfect. Luckily, it may not matter very much.

    It won’t matter because the hyenas and amateur “statisticians” on this and every other blog will rip him a new one the size of the Holland Tunnel as soon as they find something they don’t like about him. AV definitely had his faults and deserves his share of the blame for the recent Rangers’ failures. But the the biggest factor by far was the failure of the Rangers’ players who were consistently overrated by the AV haters. AV’s blunders in the Ottawa series merely put the icing on the cake mad by the guys on the ice blowing big leads with sloppy, indifferent play. Against TB we were without Zuccarello and had a hobbled McDonagh in Game 7. Was AV out out-coached in that series? Yes. Did it make a bigger difference than those key injuries? I really doubt it.

    The biggest difference between teams coached by NHL retreads like Trotz, Gallant and Maurice and the recent Rangers’ teams is mostly better talent. Trotz does a lot of the same things AV did that cause mass hysteria on this site – but he has Ovechkin and Backstrom, et. al to make up for it. Those two are better than anyone on the Rangers’ recent teams and it isn’t even close. So are a lot of the guys on Winnipeg and TB (OK, some of them were actually Rangers but that’ s not who I’m referring to). Even Vegas has better talent than the Rangers.

    Bottom line – the success or failure of the Rangers going forward will be >90% about the players and at most 10% about the coach.

    • SalMerc says:

      Having a superstar stud in the lineup makes most coaches better. A coach that can bring a team together (and win) without that “go-to” player is the type of coach we need.

      We have a team of middle 6 players. Without a stud, we need a coach with a system the players that can perform in and buy into and a team that has a relentless nature about them. Not sure who that is, but that coach also needs to have patience with the mistakes younger players tend to make.

      The NHL has turned into a speedy game, where you need to put your best players in a position to succeed and your other players to play the role of defender or gritty cycler. A coach who can make in-game maneuvers and a coach who has a team that is in the top 25% on the PP and PK.

      A lot to ask, but this is what we need. Hopefully we have the players with enough talent to perform well enough to make the playoffs.

      • roadrider says:

        Yes it would be great if there were a coach who could transform a team of middle-level players into a Cup winner. I’ not sure that such a coach actually exists. The Rangers tried that with Herb Brooks the Miracle-on-Ice Worker. It didn’t work for the simple reason that the team simply wasn’t good enough. They had Tortorella who turned a tea of middle-level talent into a contender with a “relentless” nature. But they flamed out too because they lacked even sub-elite scoring and were almost completely reliant on Lundqvist standing on his head every game. Without the talent it doesn’t matter who the coach is.

        • stevesse says:

          Question. How does Las Vegas do it? Superstars? I think not. Some good talent in goal and Schmidt,Neal, carlson, March etc.
          They are relentless. Is that the coach or the players? It does upset me that the league created a system where the Stanley Cup could go to an expansion team. What happens to the next one (Seattle, I think)?

          • Egelstein says:

            Indeed, it is literally happening in Vegas right now. They may not win a Cup, but I think it’s safe to say the were no mirage (Vegas pun kind-of intended), even if they don’t hoist the hardware.

            Only a few of those guys were even viewed as significant losses to their teams. They were able to hand-pick their roster, top to bottom, in real time. They weren’t guessing on 17 year-olds, and they weren’t relying on what scouts project players to be in the NHL but rather what players actually already have been in the NHL. They probably could have found clips of two guys they were deciding between from opposing teams on the ice facing each other, if they wanted to, to compare and contrast. That’s actually a pretty significant leg up, if it is executed correctly, IMO. Big if, but now we know what that correct execution looks like.

            I’m a bit surprised they have worked out THIS well, but I was not at all shocked they weren’t a basement dweller as some folks just assumed they would be. Complimentary depth matters, but most teams have to cobble that together while balancing guys’ primes, contracts, and even carry-over injuries from season to season. That’s harder to do. You get a chance to “fantasy draft” a team like this…even if it doesn’t feature stars, the risk of drawing future busts, injury-prone, or low-effort guys is pretty low if they go about it the right way.

    • Dave says:

      I doubt I speak for all “AV haters” here, but here’s a little insight into my thought process throughout the AV years.

      When the Blueshirts were getting crushed 6-0 and 9-2 when AV first arrived, and Marty Biron getting deked into retirement, I took a step back and had a feeling it was just an adjustment period. Huge system difference, it took a while to really get going. I wound up being right, and my prediction on Yahoo that NYR would come out of the East was spot on. The team fit the system for the most part.

      They hit their peak in 2015. Girardi and Staal were already on the decline, but were serviceable enough in their roles. I hated the TBL G7 decisions AV made though. I took notice on those. I hated that Glass was always in the lineup, too.

      The wheels started coming off in 2016. Surely AV would adjust, right? Nope. Same lineup. Same roles. Same system. No infusion of youth. No trust outside the veteran presence. No adjustment to the changing game. I started adjusting my stance on AV.

      By the time the Rangers were humiliated out of the playoffs by the Penguins, I was all aboard the fire AV train. He had a ton of faults, and his lack of adjustment was getting to me. If he adjusted the system to the team he had, and adjusted his lineup decisions to the aging blue line he had, then I probably would have backed off.

      Is it entirely his fault? Nope, not by a long shot. But I do fully believe his coaching cost the Rangers the series against Ottawa in 2017. Every coach has a shelf life. His expired. He was held on to one year too long, in my opinion.

      Instead of attacking “AV haters,” as you so eloquently put it, why not have a civilized discussion?

      • SalMerc says:

        Well stated.
        A team is a combination of players, coaches and their GM. Last year’s team had a less than stellar group of players, a coaching staff that failed in both the defensive style and offensive PP, and a GM that was not able to add (or subtract) a player or two that raised the entire level up.
        When the GM finally realized 2018 was a loss leader, he cut bait. He purged the team of salvageable players and moved towards a youthful rebuild. He undoubtedly removed the coach from power when he made those statements about moving players.

        Looking forward, the semblance of the new team and coaching staff falls squarely on the shoulders of Gorton. I am hoping he has a plan and isn’t “winging” it.

  7. Andy says:

    I don’t disagree with you. The teams needs a coach who’s style matches the players he has on his rooster. It’s a chicken and egg game, but players and coaches need to have flexibility and be willing to make adjustments. One of AV’s biggest issues is he did not have the player to play the style he wanted to play. Unfortunately he made some adjustments in his last 2 seasons(particularly on D) that were actually counter to making things better. We went from the black and blue shirts (under Torts) to the finesse blue shirts(under AV). It worked for a period of time and we made rooster adjustments, but it was not an ideal match. Partially because the style we transitioned to did not work for the player we kept like Girardi and Staal? AV’s style is probably a better game for a guy like Stralman? It’s just one example.

    the most important thing about the new coach will be his ability to adjust and guide the players along with him. But the type of game we play will need to be complementary to the players he has on the rooster. We have a good idea of what the Rangers are coveting for players. So anyone in the coaching hunt should have a pretty good of idea of what is to be expected. The rooster will most likely look quite different from where we are today. But if we get a coach in ahead of the draft I think we will be fine.

    If we could take any of the 4 coaches left in the cup run I would take Gallant. I watched a bunch of Vegas games this year and my view is they are the best coached team in the league. How the Panthers fired him in the way they did is truly mind boggling.

  8. Pas44 says:

    Newsflash: AV is GONE, let it bleed boys!

    I disagree, the next coach is important for development reasons therefore who is behind the bench is important this September

    LGR!!!

  9. joe from newburgh says:

    Lest we forget, hockey is a team game, and the concept of “team” includes everyone from the GM down to the guy sitting alone at the end of the bench in Hartford. Look at how Pittsburgh was able to call up guys from their minor league team after they won the Cup to replace those who left as FA’s. (1) They had players with a decent upside in the minors. (Good scouting) (2) Those players were taught and coached well in the minors in the same system used by the Pens. (A competent minor league organization) (3) They have a solid core of good players who help the call ups succeed. (Both long and short term planning). When they needed to, they were able to replace coaches, including doing it with a coach we’d run out of town (Mike Sullivan). All of those show an organization that knows what it’s doing, and is constructed to last.

  10. Ray says:

    I think you are selling Gerard Gallant short. It is easy to look at Vegas and, because it was proved possible, to think it was easy. I suspect more than half of NHL coaches could not have gotten that team into the playoffs. Who looked at their personnel at season start and said we fear those guys? The fact that you criticize him for playing Engelland indicates you don’t see how the team is built.

  11. Larry says:

    ” I think that Ranger fans often too singularly focused on the coach as the reason for the team’s woes. ” ??? REALLY?

    In 2014 AV wanted veteran Dan ‘wheelchair’ Boyle who was so old he can’t skate anymore, and let young and upcoming Anton Stralman go to the Bolts, that was the beginning of the end of this gen of the Rangers.
    .

  12. Larry says:

    For fans who credit AV who led the Rangers to the Cup finals in his first year, let me remind you that 2013-2014 Rangers defense system was John Tortorella’s system, not AV’s. How’s the Rangers’ defense system under AV since the Cup final?
    .

  13. Odielicious says:

    Very enjoyable reading these comments. Same 5 knuckle heads saying the same things over and over again…lundquist sucks!!!! no he is great!!!! Av blows !!!! No he is not that bad!!! When someone actually makes a point outside the box you guys jump all over it like that person just killed your dog!

    A coach is irrelevant on a veteran team. The guys are making their money and whether they mess up one night or not …they are not going anywhere. Just look at Brenden Smith. How long till the front office finally sent him down? AV just kept sitting him but I am sure he was pressured to put him in every night. As is………. he is still getting paid but now he only works on the weekends.

    Where I can see a coach mattering is with developing young players. At that point they are still wide eyed and willing to listen. They don’t have a guaranteed seat and need to constantly prove themselves. Which I feel torts does and did a very good job of. He gets the most out of the players and he shows them what needs to be done to be successful. Here lies the only reason I saw a fit for firing AV.

    Guess what I am trying to say is what are a coaches skills? Can anyone list exactly what a coach can bring besides wins and losses? How a coach handles the media certainly seems to be a issue in ny, (just ask torts) how he prescouts a opponent (was one of AV’s strengths I heard), the system he implements seems to be a real touchy one on this blog, with that can he adjust his style to better fit the opponent? Is the coach a statistics guru or old school eye test guy? What else is there? Can he motivate men who have guaranteed contracts with no move clauses? I mean that is a tall task I am not sure god himself can pull that one off.

    On the side note Giardi is a excellent defender, but his speed or lack off is why it is hard not to put him on the top line d pairing as even cooper is seeing. He just isn’t a offensive threat but is very reliable when you have a 1D who constantly likes to jump into the rush. Cause he is so slow if that partner of his gets burned no worries the G man hasn’t made it up the ice yet! But he is extremely reliable in that department. Why isn’t Mac playing with Hedman? That seems like the most lethal combo ever? I mean I sure if we are on a Tampa blog you all would be ripping cooper for not playing the 2 together. I mean Mack and Shatty were a dream made in heaven. Best 1-2 punch in the nhl!

    Also another side note those first 2 games of tampa washington are a direct result of JT miller and his defensive liabilities. If he is ever on the first line again in this post season it would shock me. He got exploited on almost every shift. This however is not to say he isn’t a great player with one hell of a future …and I still hate that trade to the very bottom of my heart. Kid just has such a upside.

    I will say this about the coaching position …tenured coaches like Ruff when he was in buffalo seemed to have more control over personnel and picks, bowman also. I just could never see that happening here in NY with Sather still behind it all. He just has to big of an ego. So really to worry about the coach in this franchise is kind of pointless. He is just going to be a figure head who greets us and the media.

    ANother way of saying this is ….do you really think the great coaches of professional sports like the Belichick, Parcells, Phil Jackson, Scotty Bowman, guys that kept winning even when changing franchises didn’t hand select their teams or atleast have a huge impact on it? What Gallant is doing in Vegas is a miracle simply put. But I don’t see it lasting. Look the last winner of the cup 2 years running simply fell into the job and just let them play. If you take away Malkin and Crosby do they win the cup even once under Sully? Bylsma was so bad it is a miracle he won it as someone said.

    But I notice a trend here…all retread coaches seem to have their success in the first year of coaching a team. Once the players realize he sucks it is all down hill from there.

    So from just thinking and writing about it …I believe there are 2 styles of coaches…the torts version were every year the team gets just a little better til the candle has burned out at both ends and then there is the veteran coach that can massage big contract egos and get the best play out of those type players.

    • Mancunian Candidate says:

      Never mind your ridiculous opinions on coaching. How’s your boy Pekka Rinne doing after he choked another series away, Odie? Weren’t you claiming that he was undeniably great the other day? So many words to say nothing but BS on your part.

      • Richter1994 says:

        Guess being Vezina candidates doesn’t really mean that much after all.

        Like I said at the beginning of the playoffs, Nashville’s and Winnipeg’s goalies would have to stand tall. Nyet.

  14. CTFan says:

    This article is clueless.

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