Alain Vigneault, a blessing for the Rangers kids

Alain Vigneault has been a great developer of talent in NY
Alain Vigneault has been a great developer of talent in NY

Sometimes opportunity is about timing. Anthony Duclair, JT Miller and Kevin Hayes have made the Rangers at the right time because in Alain Vigneault they have the right coach to develop them into full time – and hopefully long term – Rangers.

Vigneault won over a lot of the fan base last year by staying patient amid early troubles, by being the Anti-Torts in allowing players to develop chemistry together and also by being able to acknowledge ‘hot hands’ and give players a platform to perform when their form deserved extra playing time (example: Cam Talbot taking over midseason for a short period).

There’s every chance Anthony Duclair goes back to junior this year and if he does, it will have been the right decision. If he sticks, he’ll have earned it. The Rangers Head Coach has earned everyone’s trust and whatever he decides will likely be the best course of action. Alain Vigneault has proven he’s confident in his younger players if they earn his trust and the even ice time distribution in the St Louis game (every forward had at least 11 minutes ice time) suggests Vigneault will continue to work the kids in to meaningful positions and give them a chance of growth.

This Head Coach doesn’t revert back to the veterans just because his team are away at a contending western conference powerhouse. He sticks to his concept. Vigneault has shown he knows how to develop players on the big stage. Chris Kreider came on leaps and bounds last year even though Vigneault initially preached some tough love and sent him to Hartford. Vigneault still found a way to bring Kreider along quickly.

Although not a kid, Vigneault was the first coach to get consistency out of Benoit Pouliot and he helped turn Carl Hagelin into a game changing force with his speed and constant breakaway threat. Under Vigneault Zuccarello finally found consistency. Wherever you look on the roster you’ll find examples of how Vigneault has taken young Rangers players to the next level. This is why fans should be excited about the timing of Duclair, Hayes and Miller’s arrival – all talented, they also have the right situation and the right Head Coach to succeed.

Miller and Duclair were passengers in the Rangers’ impressive season opening win in St Louis and suggestions of a Calder trophy campaign from Duclair are premature, however if they are going to have successful seasons Alain Vigneault will be a big reason why. Much like when the Rangers needed Tom Renney way back when, they now appear to again have the right coach in place to develop the kids but this time continue to produce a contender.

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  • Hold it a second all that praise for the coach may be a bit too much. He had no choice with Kreider and forced to play him. Kreider was ready but the coach did not want him(my opinion). Who else did they have?
    Zuccarello was always going to be a monster with or without the coach.He might have been right with Pouliot. The coach did not give Hagelin his speed but the system was right on. If he didn’t have St Louis they would not have gone as far as they went(my opinion).

  • He is a smart coach. In this day and age of media(sadly) you have to be able to right the ship on all fronts. Tortorella could not do that. AV inherited a lot of what Trots worked in instilling to the players. One thing I am uneasy with is if he thinks speed will win alone then we are in trouble. This is a game that size and grind still wins. We have to have a balance of both to win it all. Against the Blues they wore us down by the third period and it showed. We were just fortunate to get the bounce on Nash’s game winner to find a way and win it. That is still a good sign though to find a way and win games. It is a must for this year to stay ahead of the curve and win games in a very open EC. There will be no taking nights off this year.

  • I can only agree with you regarding the development of Zucs. Kreider and Hagelin were ripe to become the players they were no matter who the coach was. Pulliot may well have been an accident.
    Nonetheless, I do agree with your notion that young players have a better shot at developing under AV than Torts.

  • AV didn’t exactly show JT a lot of patience last year and Krieder, Zuc and Stinky served much of their apprenticeship under another master.

    Alain did help turn Pouliot’s career around and has given Hayes, Fast and Duclair a legit shot. Its too early to tell if there is chemistry in the forward ranks, so far I see lots of flash but not enough players willing to go to the dirty areas of the ice.

  • He’s a good coach as long as he’s winning. This fan base has no patience for not getting immediate results.

  • AV’s been great so far, but I don’t think its fair to call him the anti-torts in terms of developing young players. Stepan, Hagelin, McDonagh, DZ, Artie, Zucc, and Sauer are all players first came up under torts. Cally, Dubi, Staal, Giradi, were all young players given big roles by torts. Everyone seems to point to Kreider’s trouble cracking the lineup of evidence that torts hated kids. But torts was always pro kids and I think AV is just continuing this trend.

    • Much though I loved Torts’ hard assed Black & Blue Shirts, I think it was too Torts-centric. The talent AV has is in not putting his ego into the mix. Guys can’t help but grow when it is really about THEM, while coaching staff oversees the structure of things and adjusts when needed.

      IMO as long as AV is satisfied with what he sees, he leaves well enough alone, where Torts would jumping in too heavy, too often. But AV’s not a push over. Long story short, I like this guy… a lot.

  • The anti-Torts fan base clinging to their hatred and wrongly blamed Torts rather then Sather for the Rangers failure to beat superior teams in the playoffs really need to get a grip on reality. Torts got way more out of the talent he had then AV got out of the Rangers last season when they got lucky to reach the finals. The BS about AV being better with the kids is a myth created by the very same people that cried until Torts got fired.

    Torts deserved better. Even Pierre McGuire finally shut up with the comparisons between his butt buddy AV and Torts. Two seasons after he was hung by the media and fans, he deserves better out of the writers of this blog.

    You have a right to your opinion, Chris, but that’s all it is…YOUR opinion. Thanks for sharing and thanks for being part of a place that allows me to share mine. 🙂

    • We lost to the Devils in the ’12 ECF for a number of reasons – including lack of depth (Sather), running out of gas (Torts), etc. But one reason why we lost was NOT because NJ was the “superior” team.

      • Wasn’t talking about ‘012, but if that fits your case, I guess I’m wrong. LOL

        I was taking about losing to the Bruins in ‘013…a team they didn’t have to beat to make the finals last season…which was lucky for the Rangers. But my point was I’ve heard enough of people trashing Torts when he was the coach, let alone two years later. If you can’t find something good to say about AV without making inaccurate (IMO) comparisons to Torts, then there must not be much to say.

  • “This Head Coach doesn’t revert back to the veterans just because his team are away at a contending western conference powerhouse. He sticks to his concept.”

    WOW! Could I be more wrong? AV sure has been a blessing for those kids. Fast and Miller benched then sent down. Now Duclair benched. The clock’s ticking Hayes…

    Good thing ol’ Torts ain’t around jacking the kids. LOL

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