Archive for Coaching
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.