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Category: Coaching

Evaluating Alain Vigneault seven games in

Don’t jump to any conclusions after seven games

Before the already numerous Alain Vigneault haters get their tail feathers ruffled, remember that we are only SEVEN games into the season, so none of this means a whole lot yet.  However, Vigneault was brought in to implement widespread changes to the team’s tactics and approach to the game, so we are understandably keeping a close eye on the new bench boss in the early going.  So without further ado, here are several of the things we expected from Vigneault when he was hired, and how they’ve actually turned out in the infancy of the 2013-2014 campaign.

Less line juggling – Not so much.  To be fair, Vigneault would be much better able to keep his preferred combinations together if the Rangers hadn’t been ravaged by the injury bug, but so far Vigneault has shifted his players around as much as John Tortorella ever did.  Taylor Pyatt on the first line?  Come on. Read more »

Rosen: Leetch almost returned to Rangers

Dan Rosen at had an interesting nugget of information this morning, noting that “Brian Leetch was prepared to move back to New York to join Mark Messier on the New York Rangers’ coaching staff” should Messier win the head coaching job in New York. Leetch would have been one of Messier’s assistants, likely –my assumption– working with the defensemen and the powerplay.

Instead, Alain Vigneault was named head coach, and Leetch wound up working in Brendan Shanahan’s Department of Player Safety office.

Expect AV to bring in his type of players

Hedberg could have a shot at winning the backup role (Photo: AP)

Hedberg could have a shot at winning the backup role (Photo: AP)

This past offseason Glen Sather kept this roster pretty much intact in hopes that Alain Vineault and his new coaching staff would be the difference makers to get this team over the hump. With that said, any time a team changes coaches there’s always going to be some roster turnover that follows.

At this point we don’t know what system AV has in store for the Rangers, though Nash vaguely remarked “defense first” which obviously can mean a lot of different things and Girardi mentioned “four man rushes, same as Torts”. However, we do know that AV has a starkly different personality than Torts and will certainly bring a different approach to dealing with his players one-on-one. More often than not, it’s personalities and TOI that generally cause players and coaches to gel or jive, not the x’s and o’s. After all, most players at this level can adapt to different systems and formations.

So turnover is inevitable. And to think that every current Ranger is going to fit is a bit naive.

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Ulf Samuelsson’s potential impact on the defense

(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

New assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson will likely be in charge of the defense, much the way Mike Sullivan was in charge of the defense last season. A noted tough guy/fighter during his playing days, Samuelsson was also incredibly sound defensively and a reliable top-four defenseman for the Whalers, Penguins, and Rangers. Samuelsson spent five years as an assistant with Phoenix, where he had a profound impact on the young defensemen.

Among those that Samuelsson tutored in Phoenix (that are still there): Keith Yandle, Zbynek Michalek, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and David Schlemko. Yandle has already solidified himself as a top pairing defenseman, and OEL might turn into one of the best defensemen in the league (at worst, he’s a top-four guy). Other guys to pass through Phoenix during Samuelsson’s tenure: Ed Jovanovski, Keith Ballard, and Derek Morris. That’s some track record for a five year assistant coach.

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Brooks: Rangers to name Daniel Lacroix assistant coach

Per Larry Brooks, the Rangers are going to name Daniel Lacroix as the third and final assistant coach under Alain Vigneault. The former Ranger was an assistant with Tampa Bay for the past three seasons. He will join Scott Arniel and Ulf Samuelsson behind the bench with AV. Benoit Allaire will be the goalie coach.

Scott Arniel joins Rangers as assistant coach

Looks like the Rangers have found their third assistant coach, as Katie Strang is reporting that Scott Arniel is going to be joining Ulf Samuelsson and Benoit Allaire behind the bench with Alain Vigneault. Arniel worked with AV in the Canucks organization, when he was the head coach of the Manitoba Moose. Arniel most recently coached the Columbus Blue Jackets, but was let go during the 2011-2012 season.

Ulf Samuelsson joins the bench as assistant coach

This news broke yesterday, courtesy of Alex Nunn and his translation abilities (via this Swedish website), but we wanted to keep the focus on the draft. Former Ranger defenseman Ulf Samuelsson will be re-joining the Rangers as an assistant coach, working with the defense and penalty kill. Ulfie has spent the past two seasons coaching Modo in the SHL (renamed from the SEL).

Should Rangers fans exercise caution over Alain Vigneault?

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

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

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

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

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Slats: Style of play had Tortorella fired

(Gerry Kahrmann, The Province)

(Gerry Kahrmann, The Province)

Pat Leonard of the Daily News sat down with Glen Sather yesterday, and the Rangers GM was very candid about the decision to relieve former coach John Tortorella of his duties. Slats said that the “style of play had a lot to do with it” in reference to the dismissal of the coach. Leonard was able to get more details from the GM as well:

“If you look at these playoff games (like the Stanley Cup Finals matchup) you’re gonna see, the style that they play, I mean there’s not a hell of a lot of dump-ins,” Sather said. “I mean, (if) you have to dump the puck in, you have to dump it. But there’s a lot of puck control and hanging onto the puck and moving the puck out, and there’s not stopping behind the net to gain control. There’s a lot of things that are done differently than what we were doing. So you have to look at the style of play. That had a lot to do with (the decision to fire Tortorella), too.”

It’s a very interesting quote, and there are a few things that –if you read between the lines– certainly changed Slats’ opinion of the direction of the team. For the sake of the post, we are focusing on the on-ice product on not on Torts’ personality. From this quote alone, you can see that the organization shifted direction on Torts in a very short amount of time, and it all had to do with on-ice performance.

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Rangers to announce Vigneault as head coach on Friday

The Rangers have announced that they will introduce Alain Vigneault as the new head coach Friday afternoon during a press conference from Radio City Music Hall. Vigneault officially signed his five-year $10 million contract this week. It is assumed that the Rangers may announce the assistant coaches at this press conference. Previous head coach John Tortorella was fired shortly after Memorial Day, and it is likely that assistants Mike Sullivan and Jim Schoenfeld will also be relieved of their coaching positions.