Category: Coaching

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.

Don’t expect a huge change with Vigneault on board

Don't expect a huge difference in performance under Vigneault.

Don’t expect a huge difference in performance under Vigneault.

With Alain Vigneault on board, the Rangers are likely going to be changing their styles of play. But with that style change comes understanding what that change will bring. This is something we’ve covered a few times here, but it’s worth digging deeper into the puck possession metrics to see how exactly the Rangers will be differing in styles of play, and how effective AV’s more conservative style is at driving puck possession.

Make no mistake, there are very few coaches as aggressive as John Tortorella. The Rangers sat at the top of the league in GF% (goals for percentage, GF/[GF+GA]), CF%, and SF% this past season, which was likely the most efficient on-ice performance of any Torts-coached Ranger team. They may not have been pretty, they may have been maddeningly inconsistent, but they were efficient in puck possession as a team. Vigneault’s Canucks, however, were not in the top-10 in these categories this past season.

But it is unfair to really rate Vigneault –or Tortorella for that matter– with just one lockout-shortened season of stats. So let’s look at the last three years for these coaches:

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Brooks: Sullivan, Schoenfeld out as assistants; Allaire to remain

Larry Brooks is reporting that the Rangers are expected to officially name Alain Vigneault as the head coach of the Rangers this week, and the announcement will coincide with the dismissals of Mike Sullivan and Jim Schoenfeld as assistant coaches. Benoit Allaire will remain as the goaltenders coach, and Schoenfeld will still be with the team as assistant General Manager. Sullivan will be let go from the organization.

This shouldn’t be much of a surprise, as Vigneault wants his own assistants. Allaire is also one of the best goaltending coaches in the game, so it makes sense to keep him on board.

The positives and negatives of Rangers new coach Alain Vigneault

Alain it is.

Alain it is.

Every site you go to, every poll you read, most Rangers fans wanted Alain Vigneault over any other coach on the job market. Some wanted Mark Messier. A few wanted Dave Tippett. Maybe three people wanted Guy Boucher or Lindy Ruff. But for the most part, AV has been the guy from fans and media alike.

I understand the appeal. He’s the most winningest coach available (except for Torts, oddly enough). However, based on comments I’ve read on this site and on Twitter, it’s interesting how little people know about Alain Vigneault other than his win-loss record. Since the whole “Alain would have won a Cup, if it weren’t for Luongo” is pretty much the extent of anyone’s analysis, I figured today would be a good time to break down the positives and negatives of having Vigneault as our new head coach. Personally, I would have preferred an AHL coach, or maybe an assistant NHL coach, instead of the same old hat. Oh well.

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5 key questions in the wake of the Vigneault hiring

The Rangers have yet to schedule a formal announcement, but it’s all but official that Alain Vigneault will succeed John Tortorella as head coach.  The Suit will have more on the pros and cons of the hiring tomorrow, but let’s take a look at some key questions in the immediate aftermath of today’s news.

How does this affect Mark Messier’s future with the organization?

GM Glen Sather deserves credit for using his head, not his heart, in choosing Vigneault over Messier as coach.  Many surmised that Sather would be unable to reject Messier given their long history, but in the end Sather made the right decision for the team, perhaps at the expense of his relationship with The Captain.  The Fourth Period reported that Messier might join Vigneault as an assistant, but it’d be a little surprising to see Messier agree to play second fiddle to the man that was chosen over him.  Not only that, but it would be very unfair to Vigneault to have an apparent coach in waiting, beloved by the New York fanbase, looking over his shoulder.  Messier could remain in his current post as special assistant to the president and general manager, but that obviously depends on how stung he feels by Sather’s decision.  It’s possible that Messier could be so angry that he chooses to leave the franchise altogether. Read more »

Vigneault will be the Rangers next head coach

UPDATE: Pat Leonard and various other sources have confirmed that Vigneault has signed to be the Rangers next head coach.  There is no word on when a formal announcement will be made.

On the same night news surfaced that Alain Vigneault was in New York today to meet with Jimmy Dolan, news also broke that Vigneault has turned down the head coaching job in Dallas. While there hasn’t been any official word from the organization, many of the usual suspects in the media (e.g., Larry Brooks, John Shannon, Bob McKenzie, etc.) have put two and two together and are expecting Alain to take over.

I normally don’t put much stock in “hockey insiders” who aren’t in my cellphone, but McKenzie is reputable. One of the few in my opinion. If the reports are accurate, the meeting between Alain and Jimmy are likely just a formality. When this will be officially announced is uncertain, but it appears Alain could be offered the job very soon.

We’ll continue to keep everyone updated on this story. For now, it looks like the writers of this website — except for myself — may get their wish.

Oh Bylsma, what could have been…

With Vigneault in, could Messier be an option as assistant?

Image Credit: Mark Messier Project

Image Credit: Mark Messier Project

While Mark Messier has revealed he has already interviewed for the Rangers head coaching job, the likelihood all points to Alain Vigneault being awarded the job. In all honesty this would be not only the less risky option, but the right option. First time coaches rarely succeed in major markets such as New York, even if you’re a Mark Messier type character, but especially when you have little to no coaching experience.

That said, could Messier be an option for the Rangers long term? Absolutely. The Rangers could look at an alternative plan. The potential is there for Messier to be an assistant coach. He could learn the coaching side of the game while the incoming head coach could benefit from the leadership, demanding personality, and likely face-off coaching skills Messier could bring. Could Messier be groomed toward a head coaching role? The potential is there.

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Update: Pens ink Bylsma to two-year extension

Bylsma would vault to #1 on my list if he becomes available.

Bylsma would vault to #1 on my list if he becomes available.

Update: The Penguins have extended coach Dan Bylsma, so he is now eliminated from the head coaching pool.

Original Post: The Penguins were swept out of the playoffs last night, scoring just two goals against a red-hot Tuukka Rask in those four games. The Penguins were completely outmatched, despite winning the Stanley Cup on paper after the trade deadline deals. However, despite the additions of Jarome Iginla, Brendan Morrow, and Douglas Murray, the Penguins were no match for the Bruins.

A lot of fans in Pittsburgh are calling for coach Dan Bylsma’s head, and it’s been rumored that there is tension between the coach and management. It does baffle me a bit, since Bylsma won a Cup in 2009 and went to the Conference Finals this year. They were out in the second round in 2010, and the first round in 2011 and 2012, but that should really paint a picture about how hard it is to win a Stanley Cup. It’s not really indicative of the coaching. But hey, that’s just my opinion. Also my opinion: These Pens –as constructed– were doomed to fail and if the Pens fire Bylsma, Slats should go running to Bylsma’s front door for an interview. He’s a great fit for New York.

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