The past and present: comparing coaches

I miss you, Torts

There’s a reason that there has been so much chatter around Alain Vigneault, questioning his ability to coach the team for success. Forgetting the obvious issues on the ice, an important theme to remember with sports, especially in a large market, is recency bias. What have you done for me lately?

If your response is “take the team to the Stanley Cup Final,” well, I have some potentially upsetting news for you: it’s 2017. The team lost it all in June, 2014. In the past three years, the Rangers have made it to the Eastern Conference Finals (2015), the first round (2016), and the second round (last May), in exactly that order. It’s been a while since the team has made it very far, and the talent continues to wither under some confusing management.

When Vigneault joined the team mid-2013, it was a refreshing change of pace from the gritty, physical John Tortorella-era Rangers. Unfortunately, at this rate, is Vigneault really much different from what Tortorella became with the Rangers?

A famous (or infamous?) Tortorella incident was having Stu Bickel famously play 3:24 in a triple overtime win against the Capitals in 2012. He was known for benching players as soon as they made an error, stubborn to a fault and not giving anyone much of a leash. This was generally agreed upon by both fans and media to be a negative trait of the coach.

Interestingly enough, Vigneault is channeling his inner 2012 Torts in his treatment of players. For some (Filip Chytil, Tony DeAngelo), it shows in a lack of playing time. This mistrust of young players is detrimental on so many levels, and perhaps most importantly, it proves to your youth that you have no faith in them. The way to learn any system is to practice, practice, practice. It isn’t to sit on a bench, or in a press box, watching the semblance of a game.

Another Tortorella gaffe was his inability to adjust with the game. Torts always ran a tough game, and in the time of #fancystats, he refused to move to a speed game. This is evident in his overuse of Dan Girardi, and in his distaste of Chris Kreider. Eventually, it was his lack of adjustments got him sacked in favor of a coach willing to play the speed game.

Oddly enough, this lack of adjustment is what has turned much of the fans and media away from AV. Though willing to play the speed game, possession stats are of no interest to Alain, looking instead at the logic in his own head. The players over the past three seasons who have been subpar in the eyes of the coach, in no particular order:

  • James Sheppard, benched in favor of Tanner Glass in Game 7 of the 2015 ECF, despite scoring in Game 6 and the team’s need for an additional center in that game.
  • Emerson Etem, key return in the Carl Hagelin trade.
  • Tony DeAngelo, centerpiece of the Derek Stepan trade, will be playing for Hartford for Stepan’s return tonight.
  • Adam Clendening, who will also return tonight, was benched for several players, but consistently Kevin Klein whose deterioration was obvious to everyone.’
  • Pavel Buchnevich, playing on the fourth line. Fourth line. Despite having success in the top-six with Kreider and Mika Zibanejad. Despite clearly not being a fourth line player. 57.1 CF%.

Eventually, either Vigneault will adjust the way Tortorella has with Columbus, or he’ll get fired the way Tortorella did with New York and Vancouver. But is it too late now? Weigh in below.

81 thoughts on “The past and present: comparing coaches

  • Oct 26, 2017 at 8:18 am

    Many of the items you pointed out are GM caused issues. A coach will put the player he feels will give him the best chance of winning on the ice. If the GM gives him faulty parts (Etem, McIlrath, DeAngelo) what is a coach to do?

    Our beloved AV has, at best, B-level talent. He is using is best 2013 coaching skills, and it no longer works. The remedy? I am not sure, but it starts by giving him better alternatives than Staal and Dejarnais.

    I am guessing that AV’s tenure will end around Christmas, and the new coach will have a fiery attitude, because that is what GMs do, the 180. It might be enough to ignite a fire under some players, but certainly not enough to get us into these playoffs.

    Gorton, not AV, has to do some soul-searching, and pick a direction because this “changing-on-the-fly” youth movement isn’t working. You need superior talent for that, and we just don’t have it.

    • Oct 26, 2017 at 8:53 am

      Good job Sal. I totally agree. I think with the players we’ve had in AV’s tenure, that he got us further than a lot of other coaches would have

    • Oct 26, 2017 at 9:18 am

      If AV is here at Xmas, then he’ll be(and should be) here all season as they got it figured out.

      He’s got the next three games to show that they can put together *a* 60 minute game, hopefully something resembling *a* dominant performance; just the effort demanded of the game.

      If they can’t, then he has to go.

      • Oct 26, 2017 at 9:31 am

        He might not be, but the NYR do not usually make quick changes. Very soon our chances at making the playoffs will be defined (like Nov 20th). Gorton might be burning up the phone lines looking for players AND possible coaches right now, but I still think Gorton waits until we fall totally out of contention before he drops the hammer.

        • Oct 26, 2017 at 1:03 pm

          This is not a quick hook, this is January 2016 on.

          • Oct 26, 2017 at 6:12 pm

            Disagree. From Jeff Gorton’s perspective, which is the only one that matters, we know for a fact that the GM was thrilled with AV’s performance as coach as recently as January 30th, 2017, when the he gave AV a mammoth raise and extension that he did not have to give him. So i doubt seriously anything from 2016 is relative in the negative.

            What we don’t know is how long the “contract buffer” will be able to save AV if the losing continues.

            • Oct 26, 2017 at 6:22 pm


              How much longer do you think JG can tolerate this type of play?????

              • Oct 26, 2017 at 6:57 pm

                That’s a great question. And the answer is a total unknown because we don’t really know what the internal expectations were from the organization. The only facts we know are this—

                1) as mentioned before, Gorton obviously was very pleased with his coach as of 9 months ago.

                2) Gorton let go of two centers and failed to replace them with any NHL ready quality talent.

                3) The young players are not anywhere near ready.

                4) For the Rangers to contend, players who have traditionally been in a lesser role need to step up, and so far have been unable to do so.

                5) Hank has to be Hank. That’s even more imperative this year when the backup is named Pavelec and not Talbot or Raanta. But Hank hasn’t been Hank. (Maybe Benny Allaire’s message has gotten old…maybe they should fire him! 🙂

                So while certainly there is plenty to criticize the coach for (when the team is 2-6-2, the coach can’t be absolved), how much of this is coaching and how much is personnel? That’s what we really do not know and what Gorton must answer.

                My hunch is AV gets more time. But if they completely unravel, sure, he may simply need to go.

              • Oct 26, 2017 at 8:04 pm


                That’s why I posted this morning that there was plenty of blame to go around, and I still contend that Sather really screwed this organization with some terrible contracts, and other moves he made while here……

                No one on this site would have predicted Hank having this kind of start, and that is hurting more than anything else. Historically he cover plenty of our warts that we had!!!

        • Oct 26, 2017 at 2:18 pm

          Rangers playoff probabilities are at 11%, how soon is now?

  • Oct 26, 2017 at 8:42 am

    you have two winnable games tonight against the coyotes and Saturday up in Montreal but the team has to play like a team be on the right page

  • Oct 26, 2017 at 8:45 am

    If any of the personnel decisions you listed were isolated events we would probably not be having this discussion, but the fact that is a continuous cycle and never going to change is.
    This is a salary cap league where getting contributions form youth is vital. With the exception of Skjei and Fast (and a lesser extent Vesey), AV does not allow young players to excel until after a couple of years and the expiration of their ELC’s. This is unacceptable in an era where so many teams are allowing their youth o be key contributors to the team, make mistakes in game and learn from them (without fear of being scolded thru benching, not dressing, or being demoted).
    Accountability is a big facets in life, not just sports. Giving leeway to experienced veterans is normal but to define a huge black line of similar issues where some players are constantly allowed to make the same mistakes time and again while younger kids get one shot is absurd.

    Unless we really tank to get a generational talent in the draft or strike gold with Free Agency (which would require spending BIG $$$ to bring in and the need for young cheap talent even more necessary) we are a team that is going to need 4 solid contributing lines. Lines that can wear down opponents with speed and skill. LInes that can overmatch teams during a 60 minute game when those teams need to rely on bottom6 players not as strong as ours. AV has gone completely against this philosophy.

    And it is a shame because we do have a strong nucleus of payers that can get it done

    • Oct 26, 2017 at 2:03 pm

      Well said.

  • Oct 26, 2017 at 8:46 am

    This team could use some grit, and they do not play 60 minutes. Both traits were main stays under torts

    • Oct 26, 2017 at 11:07 am

      I don’t know who started that rumbling of the NYR playing smash mouth hockey when Torts was here because it’s really not true. That series against the Sens in 2012 proved that 1 guy alone (Chris Neil) could walk all over the NYR. In 2013 the Rangers were everybody’s front door step to walk over and step on in that season. There was countless turtling in the regular seasons and playoffs after guys like Mcd get their faces get kissed up to glass. Bruins bounced out the Rangers just like Pitts did in 16 and those Caps during the 1st round murdered Torts old team. I remember that 1 shift when Chimera took off Stralman’s leg and made contact with Clowe’s head all in a one shift.

      • Oct 26, 2017 at 12:03 pm

        I remember that crushing hit he laid on Boyle. But Torts had the team mentally tougher then AV does, and in a lot better conditioning. They played 60 much more then AV’s clubs have done and are currently doing.

        This could also be in part to having RC and DB in the line up too, both are way more aggressive and tougher then anyone is playing now

        • Oct 26, 2017 at 6:15 pm

          Really? Torts teams were known to completely wear out late in the season and in the playoffs. Indeed, that happened to the Jackets last year. Tort’s “toughness” is a myth made mostly by his personality.

      • Oct 26, 2017 at 6:14 pm

        It’s because Torts growled and snarled a lot at reporters, and threw a water bottle at fans once. That made him seem like a tough guy to some bloggers. Wasn’t actually true on ice, at least no more so than the Rangers have been under AV or Renney.

  • Oct 26, 2017 at 9:00 am

    Changes will come, sooner rather than later.

    If you go back to his days in Vancouver, the trend is identical, and as are the results. There is plenty of blame to go around from AV, JG, but most of all Glen Sather. He who signed Staal, & Girardi to contracts that were grossly overpaying, with NMC’s. He who gave away #1 picks like candy for children trick or treating. He who for years gave us a steady diet of retreads, with the promise of a cup, which never came. JG had his hands tied behind his back, and couldn’t make moves due to some of those terrible contracts.

    AV was handed over a team with talent, took them so far, but couldn’t take us over the top. Girardi was exposed in the cup finals as slow, poor skater, and worse puck handler than any other blue liner. Yet, time and again, AV put him in there at some of the most critical moments of the game, when better options were available. Oh that comfort level, favorite player being out there made AV sleep better at night, but cost us dearly.

    I don’t put all the blame on the coach, but he is responsible for a load of mistakes in his handling of players, and has been out coached due to his stubbornness, and or ego, and refuses to make adjustments to his game plan.

    Bottom line, the expiration date has come, and changes will be made, showing this coach the front door…………The players will then be responsible for their play, no more excuses about the coach, it’s on them!!!!!!

    • Oct 26, 2017 at 1:10 pm

      Good points. I don’t think it’s fair to level too much criticism at Gorton. He has a lot of fixing to do. Sather left behind so many bad contracts, and an empty prospect pipeline. I still don’t get giving up 2 first rounders for a St L, a player who demanded a trade, but handcuffed his GM by making the Rangers his only option. So, dealing from a position of strength, this is a deal Sather makes? “Here’s a used car I need to sell. I need to sell it now, and you’re my only client. Ok, I’ll pay you what a new car is worth, is that on?”

      Gorton received pretty good grades from the analysts for his ability to retool the team given what he had to work with.
      But it doesn’t matter what he builds, the coach needs to be on the same page. Yes, he wasn’t always given the best options (Mclrath, etc). But for every GM mistake, there is the misuse of Yandle, Buch, Glass, Holden… Obviously some were wasted, others forced into round holes.

      We either need a new GM that holds his coach to the building plan, or a new coach who’s willing to go along with the organization (I conced that I don’t know what happens behind closed doors)

      • Oct 26, 2017 at 3:11 pm


        Thanks for reply, and your points are indeed valid. Most of the blame lies at the feet of Sather, and yes JG’s hands were tied behind his back, and couldn’t make moves due to some contracts. That is the main reason I said that there is plenty of blame to go around, and not all at the feet of AV, who indeed deserves his fair share.

        To the 11 schmucks who won’t contribute anything, thanks for your thumbs down, just inspiration to get you clowns all upset by stating the truth. Please thumbs down me again, dip shits……..I’m waiting..

  • Oct 26, 2017 at 9:02 am

    I don’t and never will buy into the talk that AV doesn’t give kids a chance to excel. I’ve seen that if a kid shows he ca play then he will play. I’m sure if he kept putting the same kids out there and we kept losing that the same people would complain that he’s not doing anything about it. New York is different than a lot of other places because you don’t get the chance to keep a bunch of kids out there and say let’s see if they’re gonna be great or not, while you’re in last place. I’m not saying he’s perfect but being a coach anywhere, but especially here is not easy. You’ll always have someone who just doesn’t like you write articles about how they know better than an NHL coach with a record like AV has

    • Oct 26, 2017 at 9:10 am


      Sorry but your wrong. The Pens won two cups in a row with a load of kids. The very fact that Sullivan took a team, full of all stars who were under performing under the previous coach, turned them around by getting rid of some of the relics, brought up kids from Wilkes-Barre, and won not 1, but 2 cups in a row. Why can’t we do the same, or at least win one in every 25 years. Do you realise that the Pens have more cups than we do, and they did it in half the time, and in a cap world!

      • Oct 26, 2017 at 9:12 am


        They had Sidney and Malkin, Phil Kessel (who 2 other teams had dumped) and 2 great goalies. Their kids are better than our kids.

        • Oct 26, 2017 at 9:36 am

          Unfortuntely Al, we will never know if kids like Sheary or Guentzel would succeed under AV.

          Do they look better because Sullivan puts them in positions for success, shows them trust to go out and make mistakes and learn from them.

          The same can be said for many guys across the league, from the top picks like Nico and Patrick to lower level surprises like Bratt and Kerfoot..

          • Oct 26, 2017 at 4:51 pm

            Nor will we ever know if kids like Hayes, Vesey, or Skjei could succeed under AV.

        • Oct 26, 2017 at 3:15 pm

          their kids are better than ours because they drafted better than us, and developed them, rather than cutting their losses.

      • Oct 26, 2017 at 9:17 am

        Give me Crosby,malkin and Kessel and not to mention some other guys that are better than most of ours and then we can compare. There’s nothing I can say to change your mind so we disagree. That’s ok

        • Oct 26, 2017 at 10:30 am

          Al, Angelo you make good points on Crosby, Malkin and Kessel. And not to tug on anyones tail but remember how the Pens got there. Last place finishes, no attendance and a HOF rescues the franchise M. Lemeiux. Number 1 choices for last place finishes….we’d (NYR fans) go insane! Imagine what this and other blogs would look like. The Pens GM fleeces The Leafs to get Kessel and with the existing crew becomes amazing again!
          We didn’t have that management or need to win, which is Dolans fault for keeping Slats (unless he has incriminating pictures of him….I jest) for so long, including now.
          AV lost this team in the SCF. Three (count em ) 3 defensemen had broken bones in their legs including McD. IMO he has never been the same. Girard did look beaten in that series, but he was played without concern for him and his bones. This is on AV and Slats. Where were the 7th and 8th men then? In contrast would we have played Letang last year despite his need for surgery?
          The Pens keep their draft choices and used them wisely. They acquired parts that could be used to win cups and actually allowed them to become champions. They did not trade them for the folley of getting a player the cup, which is the overused NYR management excuse.
          To wrap it up (at least in my head) the fish stinks from the head down. To own the NYR and not care if they win or not is incredibly stupid and selfish. Dolan won’t and doesn’t care he’s got his money out while we still pay for games and cable. He wins cause he’s still getting his fishnagels (thank you John Davidson). I think JG has done a good job considering the handcuffs that he has had to wear. I did not like the Yandle or Staal deals but thats in the rearview mirror.
          Looking forward he must claim the team and remove AV, for the good of the team and believe it or not AV.
          Walt is absolutely right in his assessment. Now its up to JG to get us a coach who can come in a infuse some kind of spirit and equality into our team.
          Much respect to all who contribute here.

        • Oct 26, 2017 at 3:17 pm

          fair enough, but they also have had Crosby, and Malkin for some ten years, with as much talent in the past, but still didn’t win with some of the old farts playing for them then!!!!!!!

      • Oct 26, 2017 at 10:24 am

        We NY fans would never tolerate getting there how Pittsburgh did.Pittsburgh went through several years of terrible teams to gather top level picks and gather more superstars than Hollywood. You complain about the lack of high draft choices but are unwilling to lose to get them. Trade for them? Seriously, who do we have in our system worthy of a number 1 pick (or even top 3 where most superstars are found).
        I won’t argue that there is something seriously wrong with this teams performance. However, I believe that neither the coach nor the players are putting forth the effort required. You blame the coach. I blame them both.

        • Oct 26, 2017 at 10:49 am

          Hi Blaine,

          While I agree to some extent that SOME of the players are not putting forth maximum effort, it’s the coach’s job to make sure ALL the players perform up to their capabilities.

          And I think the Ranger fan base is a very well informed and knowledgeable group, one can clearly see that with the intelligent posts on this forum, and would be very patient with a true rebuild.
          For far too long we have seen wasted draft choices go for veterans well passed their prime.

          Ina salary cap environment, talented youth is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. Want to win, have a balanced team, preferably one that grows together. Keep your draft picks and draft wisely.

          And follow the mantra, ‘it’s far better to trade a player a year too early than a day too late’.

        • Oct 26, 2017 at 3:27 pm


          Pittsburgh knows the value of drafting, and made an art of it. They took a swan dive to get Mario, and again for Cindy, while getting malkin as icing for that second dive.

          As for the players, if you aren’t giving your best, you should sit, but that only applies to the kids under this coach!!!!!!!!

        • Oct 26, 2017 at 5:00 pm

          Do you know how many sellouts the Knicks are on?

          • Oct 26, 2017 at 6:40 pm

            Good point, but hoop is more popular than hockey, and therefore the Knicks can withstand a lengthy rebuild. Same with the Giants. The Rangers, in a three team hockey market? Much tougher task to go all in with a full rebuild that may or may not yield anything different than what the last rebuild yielded—good but not great talent yielding good but not great results.

      • Oct 26, 2017 at 6:37 pm

        Walt, sorry to say, but this whole notion that the Pens did this with youth is just not accurate. They brought in Matt Cullen to help them win a Cup, did they not? They traded for Phil Kessel, did they not?

        The average age of the Pens last year was 28.2. The average age of the Rangers last year was 26.7. Indeed, going back 7 years, the Pens have never been as young as the Rangers were in 2010-11, 2011-12, or last season, when their average age in all those seasons was under 27.

        Yes, the Pens have done a remarkable job weaving in talented young players into their mix. It was done by Sully successfully, and all credit to him. But did you know that when Sully was in NY, it was reported by Brooks that more Rangers players hated him than even hated Torts? No one wanted to hire the guy. It’s not like teams were falling over themselves to get him. He was in the right place at the right time. If Hynes hadn’t left for Jersey, it’s likely Hynes’ name is on the Cup instead of Sully.

        So why have the Pens succeeded where the rangers have failed? Hags said it well this summer in an interview in Sweden—

        “Hagelin also described the differences between his teams with the Rangers and his current team in Pittsburgh by saying that the Penguins have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and that they create opportunities every time they are on the ice. (VG)

        “He followed up by saying ‘we did not have that with the Rangers.’(VG)”

        Plain and simple. They had two of the greatest players of this or any generation. We have no one even close to those two. That’s why they have Cups and we don’t. And in the years in between when they didn’t win and the Rangers had their window of success? Most of those seasons, Crosby was either dealing with post-concussion effects, and or Malkin was hurt and unable to play to his capabilities. If they had been healthy all the way through, they likely would have won even more Cups.

        It’s not about coaching. It’s not about “youth”. It’s about a healthy Crosby and Malkin.

        • Oct 26, 2017 at 8:28 pm

          Call it what you want, but when Sully came in they got rid of some old timers, incorporated Guentzel, Rust, Sheary, Dumoulin, and Murray. They won a second cup with their best d-man, Latang not playing at all. Those are the facts, if you want to rewrite history, so be it.

          Now for Sully as a coach, he may not be the friendliest guy to the players, and I’m advocating for him, but he did the job, and got two cups in the process. AV can’t make that claim, but he is a great regular season coach. Big Fenin Deal, let me be the 8th seed, and win a cup any day of the week!!!!!!!!!!

    • Oct 26, 2017 at 2:37 pm

      Kids make mistakes, that’s a part of being a kid. Sure, Crosby and McDavid made fewer that most, but how often does that happen? But the coach should not punish them for a single error. They end up being afraid of taking risks, and so they do not progress at an optimum rate.

      And, as mentioned very often on this blog, there is a double standard to errors. Holden, or the dearly departed Mr. Glass (as played by Samuel Jackson) could have put a puck into our own net, and still be rewarded with prime minutes. But Buch is moved to the forth line, because why? Did he wear a wrong color tie to a meeting?

  • Oct 26, 2017 at 9:15 am

    Ah, Emerson Etem is mentioned. You’re kidding right?

    Adam Clendenning cannot find a regular spot with the Coyotes who are awful at the moment.

    Please tell me again how great Buchnevich is. How about he scores and makes a difference on the PP? 0-6 the other night with meaningful first unit minutes. Please defend that.

    • Oct 26, 2017 at 9:31 am

      Defense….You want to use one isolated game to prove your point. A game against a top 5 PK team in the league. A situation where you throw him into a 1st PP role and expect instant results.

      We had a number of rebound chances down low that Buch was not directly a part of…if those go in and we went 2-6 does that mean his addition can be deemed a success and the reason why it worked?

      This is the EXACT reason why kids are not given a chance in NY…because fans demand instant success and that is a recipe that rarely works. They want the production of an all star without paying for it and without the time to get to that level.

      Our PP has been crap for a while now under Arniel…New players come in with PP skills and show diminished results. How many times can we continue to blame the players when the schemes for the PP should be taught during practice?

      • Oct 26, 2017 at 10:44 am

        I would like A PULSE.

        • Oct 26, 2017 at 12:19 pm

          If you want a PULSE than we may want to remove the Tourniquet that’s keeping the blood from flowing…Granted Scotty Arneil cannot put the puck in the net, but he has yet to show that he can take very good PP guys and incorporate them into his less than stellar record of PP Coordinating. He has had a below average scheme for years now that does not work no matter who the players are…Throwing Buch in there for a game is not going to change that.

    • Oct 26, 2017 at 2:46 pm

      Good point. Buch didn’t score on the power play. At least everyone else did, and he was the sole problem. I don’t know if he played his best, but this is a team sport, and power play especially requires cohesiveness. If Arniel’s plans don’t work (and I’ve not seen anything impressive from him during his tenure), and other players don’t play well, how is it Buchneviche’s fault.

      What we do know, is that he’s not in a position to succeed while on the fourth line. It’s not like Nieves is going to set him up for prime scoring chances.

      • Oct 26, 2017 at 4:56 pm

        he’s not in a position to succeed

        I wish I never had to read those ridiculous words again. Hockey games are sixty minutes long. Every minute matters and if you can’t play any one of them, you just aren’t a good player.

        • Oct 26, 2017 at 5:56 pm

          Yes, he’s not used in a way that he can succeed. Playing a skilled player with grinders on the forth line isn’t going to get him many goals. And if he gets frustrated and tries to do score by himself, he’ll get benched for being too undisciplined.

          You can’t play a skilled player 8 minutes a game and expect him to be a productive goal scorer.

          If my work doesn’t give me the tools I need to work, and places me in the wrong department as well, then I’m not in a position to succeed.

  • Oct 26, 2017 at 9:30 am

    Can we also acknowledge AV’s lack of long term adjustment? When he showed up in 2013, he implemented a speed game, something no one was doing. The Rangers literally were skating past other teams. While other teams tried to implement a neutral zone trap, guys like Hagelin, Kreider, Grabner and Zucc used their speed to go right thru it. But it’s 2017 now, and EVERYONE is playing a speed game. We’re not unique anymore, we’re predictable.

    • Oct 26, 2017 at 9:43 am

      But so are 20 other teams. He absolutely does not adjust, and even worse, his in-game adjustments are horrid.

      Most teams play a speed game, but the difference is, once you gain the zone, you need to play differently. You need to play a possession game with some grit. I do not think we have the right mix of personnel to play that part of the game. This is also why the Hayes/Vesey/Grabner line is doing well. They can play with speed and grit. They have good possession numbers once they gain the zone.

      Nash/Zucc/Krieder are all one shot wonders. To boot, most of those shots hit the goalies crest.

  • Oct 26, 2017 at 9:39 am

    “If Plan A doesn’t work…DAMMIT Try it again and again until it does!”

    – And the one time it does work, it is a “See, I told you so” and we try it some more

  • Oct 26, 2017 at 9:41 am

    Good post. One thing that I have learned watching sports over the past 4 decades is that a great deal coaches would rather play a mediocre but dependable player over a gifted but erratic one. Players like Chytil and DeAngelo generally don’t play on teams with playoff aspirations.

    I still don’t understand the fantasy about Clendening (happy birthday Adam). The 31 games he played as a Ranger last season were the most NHL games he’s played in one season. He has only played 3 of Arizona’s first 9 games, so he’s on pace to play 27 games on a team still seeking their first win of the season. His 15:49 average ice time with the Rangers last season is the most time he’s played in the NHL except for the 17 games with Vancouver in the 14-15 season when he averaged 17:27. When you think about it, AV played Clendening more than any other NHL coach has. He’s also playing for his 6th team already. Maybe he just isn’t as good as we want to believe?

    Question: Does anyone know if Buchnevich can physically handle more minutes? He wasn’t in NHL shape last season and it might be optimistic to believe he could get there in one offseason.

  • Oct 26, 2017 at 9:56 am

    I’ll readily admit that AV makes some questionable personnel and deployment choices. I’m not so sure that distinguishes him from most NHL coaches. While I’m sympathetic to many of the arguments made in this post they would seem more credible if the supporting evidence did not include guys like Etem and Clendening who have proven to be marginal, at best, talents by multiple NHL organizations. Most of the writers on Rangers fan blogs seem to think that with their idea of the perfect coach who would be slavishly devoted to advanced stats the Rangers would be a serious Cup contender. Well, everyone’s entitled to an opinion. Mine is that the team is too flawed for even a Scotty Bowman to lead them to the promised land. I doubt I’m the only one who thinks that the stats guys seriously overrate the talent level on the roster.

    That said, pro sports is a results driven business and even though AV’s personnel and deployment decisions may be a lot more defensible than the advanced stats crowd will allow he might well find himself on the hot seat before too long.

    • Oct 26, 2017 at 10:16 am

      A 2-6-2 start has Vigneault on the hot seat already. With a poor showing in either of the next two games, I think the Great Gum Chewer will be hitting the bricks, jobless.

      • Oct 26, 2017 at 1:58 pm

        Thats Tanner Glasses gum, AV has had it in his mouth for the past season and a half.

  • Oct 26, 2017 at 10:41 am

    Are we really using James Shepard and Clendening as arguments to bash the coach? Really?

    “Tune in tomorrow folks for what I will make up next to fulfill my narrative that the coach is 1 notch below Hitler on the evil scale”.

    • Oct 26, 2017 at 11:57 am

      YES !!!!
      You can use them as examples , IF they were better than the guys the ”Immortal Coach”’ was playing at the time , and they were!!!!
      Then again, maybe AV just ”’lost them on the bench”’.

    • Oct 26, 2017 at 1:59 pm

      Wrong, Hitler, Trump and then AV

      come on man!

      • Oct 26, 2017 at 3:08 pm

        Leave Trump alone he is putting all your friends in jail.

  • Oct 26, 2017 at 11:01 am

    Am I the omly one that feels that utilizing defensemen who can carry the puck out of the defensive zone and consistently join the rush if the puck goes deep is the way the Rangers should be breaking out of their zone? Constant stretch passes are predictable and therefore prone to being turned around quickly. They tried to turn DeAngelo into a stretch passing guy instead Of using his skating ability. Skjei can also skate. Shatty too. I don’t get it.

    • Oct 26, 2017 at 2:24 pm

      Come on. Virtually everyone commenting here worships the idea of utilizing defensemen this way.

    • Oct 26, 2017 at 2:52 pm

      Nope, you’re not the only one. AV loves “stay at home” defenders who stifle his offensive system and can’t really handle man/overload style defense, because they can’t keep up with opposing forwards on the chase. Guys like Holden, Kampfer, Staal…they’re terrible fits for his own system, but he loves them nonetheless. Defenders who can carry the puck through the neutral zone and/or chip in on offensive rushes are in theory perfect for the offensive end of his system. It makes literally no sense to me.

  • Oct 26, 2017 at 11:05 am

    Torts has a ability to turn a crappy team: Tampa Bay, Rangers and CBJ and turn them into a good team.

    AV has a talent to turn a good team Vancouver, New York and turn them into a crappy team.

    • Oct 26, 2017 at 11:51 am

      Spot on comment Bloomer!!!!!!
      We may not be in the top 5 in terms of talent but we certainly are not bottom 5 either……
      IMHO I see guys like kreider, buch, miller, nash, zucc, hayes, zib, vesey, grabner , fast, mcdonagh, sjkel, shattenkirk and see a real good amount of talent here……
      We certainly should be winning more consistently and at least be a playoff team…….

      • Oct 26, 2017 at 12:46 pm

        You are blessed with great eyes and a discriminating brain.

        • Oct 26, 2017 at 4:40 pm

          Obviously, so are you Rangers Rock!!!!

    • Oct 26, 2017 at 6:01 pm

      Oh really? You mean like when Torts and AV switched jobs, and the Rangers went to the SCF and the Canucks imploded so badly in year one that ownership was willing to eat Torts’s long term deal just to extricate themselves from the trainwreck coach he had become—becoming one of those rare coaches in any sport to be fired TWICE in back to back seasons? Total revisionist history.

      Torts took over a good team from Renney, then choked away a 3-1 lead in the 2009 playoffs, and then followed that trainwreck up with the only playoff miss we have seen post-lockout. Then, other than 2012, he proceeded to BARELY make the playoffs in each and and every season he was here. In aggregate, he was as “succesful” as Renney was. Indeed, statistically speaking, he was a smidge worse than Renney.

      Torts is a good coach, and obviously did a great job in that one magical season in TB. All credit to him for that. But he has largely been a medicore coach since then. He’s had two great years since (2012 and 2017) and both times, what was the common denominator? He happened to have the Vezina-wining goalie on his team. And in both cases, his teams fell short of expectations in the playoffs. His Rangers lost to a Devils team they should have beaten in 2012 and the Jackets, who many people thought would make a deep run, got bounced by an injury-riddled Pens team, and did so meekly in 5 games last year (and it’s so funny that when AV lost to a much healthier and better Pens team the prior season also in 5 games, that was somehow on AV. Torts loses in 5…well, it’s that plucky Torts, doing his thing! What a bunch of bogus nonsense!).

      Let’s deal with more facts. AV came to Vancouver and was instrumental in building that team into what they became. He is the winningest coach in Canucks history. Then he came to NY and dramatically improved the performance over Torts, making him one of the winningest coaches in Rangers history.

      Look, AV’s time may soon be up, that’s more than reasonable and fair. But how about dealing with the truth and not making up nonsense? In terms of who was the most successful NYR coach, it’s AV by a wide margin. And I would even bet even Torts would acknowledge that.

  • Oct 26, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    The most predictable thing of course was that, whether the Rangers got off to a fast or slow start, it would give support to the narrative here. So far this year, the Rangers have had a crap goaltender, yet somehow this doesn’t factor into anyone’s comments. This isn’t a slam at Hank. Mostly in his career, he has been solid. However, he has had relatively short streaks of being either blazing hot or downright crappy. In the past though, the coach could start Talbot or Raanta for a few games while Hank figured it out – or, as in the beginning of last year, the offense was on fire.

    Reality: The KZB was not effective at even strength, only on the power play. OTOH, in the one game I saw, Buch was a pretty decent fourth line player, so just maybe that’s where he belongs. I realize this goes against the shiny new toy narrative.

    Chityl’s atrocious treatment cost him two entire games with the Hartford Wolfpack. That’ll probably set his development back three years at least.
    Hey, his play was embarrassing and AV saw no reason to rub it in by giving him a chance to make more gaffes. Giving a player the chance to give the opposition five goals so he can score one of his own is a great thrill for the owner’s son – not for a future star.

    And DeAngelo’s playing time was frankly typical for a seventh defenseman. No, the people who have been held back are named Kampfer and Carey, exactly the kind of players one properly sees in that role.

    And the litany of mistreated names totally misrepresents the truth. DeAngelo was not the centerpiece of the Stepan trade. The Stepan trade was designed to solve two problems the Rangers had – a need for cap space and the absence of the elite talent you get from having a top ten draft pick. So Gorton decided to trade Stepan for a top draft pick. Obviously, most of the teams with those picks want to keep them, so there were few options for a trading partner. DeAngelo was the third most important aspect of the trade from the Ranger perspective.
    And Etem, really? Carl Hagelin was a good player who was going to command more of the salary cap than the Rangers (and most teams) were willing to give him. He was worthless to the Rangers and had low trade value. They took a flier on talented but as yet unsuccessful player and he remained (and continues to remain) unsuccessful.

    • Oct 26, 2017 at 3:05 pm

      Alain, is that you?

      Jokes aside, when you say things like “OTOH, in the one game I saw, Buch was a pretty decent fourth line player, so just maybe that’s where he belongs. I realize this goes against the shiny new toy narrative.”, it makes it very hard to take your post seriously. Of course he was fine there. He is a very talented hockey player and a lot better at possession and defense than most of his naysayers will admit. That sure as hell does not mean he BELONGS there.

      I don’t usually endorse other blogs here, but Blueshirt Banter ran a piece yesterday that included stats that detailed precisely why it is completely asinine that Buchnevich is being given reduced minutes on the fourth line. I suggest you take a look at it.

      Or not, because it will ruin your narrative. Your call.

      • Oct 26, 2017 at 3:39 pm

        well said……..

      • Oct 26, 2017 at 5:14 pm

        So I did read it. First of all, it compares Buch to Jimmy Vesey, who is clearly not a top six player at this time. It ignores that Buch has gotten better assignments — and is hardly convincing regarding this year. Unquestionably, the Buchnevich we saw last year pre-injury was better than last year’s Vesey. However, it should have been equally obvious to all (and it wasn’t to the writer) that Glass was better than Buch in the playoffs.

        Hockey is a very complicated game and people think these decisions are easy. I’ve oft heard it said while discussing playoff injuries that everyone is hurt this time of year. Well, Tanner Glass spent the year in the AHL, probably playing uninspired hockey. It may very well have been true that in April and May, Tanner Glass was a healthy guy on the ice with nine hurt guys. I was amazed at how fast he was. Maybe you would rather have Victor Hedman with his left arm in a sling and a twisted right knee than Steven Kampfer, but I wouldn’t.

  • Oct 26, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    My thoughts exactly Becky, but I think he gets a free ride this season. If the Rangers don’t go past the 2nd round he will be let go in the summer.

  • Oct 26, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    I like coaches that leads and takes responsibility. I do not like coaches that lead from behind.
    Tort had the X factor that got players to sacrifice their bodies and to play beyond their abilities.
    AV has the S factor where the coach will play his favorite player and not the best player, therefore playing an inferior team and playing an unbalanced lineup to satisfy his ego, thereby Sabotaging the team when the games are important.
    Players have eyes and don’t forget how AV Sabotaged their seasons every year in the playoffs.

    • Oct 26, 2017 at 2:07 pm

      I like my leaders the exact same way.

    • Oct 26, 2017 at 2:34 pm

      Who is a better player? Mats Zuccarello or Chris Kreider? JT Miller or Kevin Hayes? If we polled the people here, do you honestly believe that everyone would rank order the players the same way?

      AV ranks players differently than you do. That’s all it is. Calling the players you rank highly “best players” and the players AV ranks highly “favorite players” is really just inadvertent lying — and I’m not calling you out. Most people do it.

      • Oct 26, 2017 at 2:57 pm

        Ray, the discipline you show in mounting logical arguments, rather than loose approximations and simulations of logical arguments, does you credit, as does your candor in evaluating the many approximations and simulations of others. Hat tip.

        • Oct 26, 2017 at 7:00 pm

          Yes, wholeheartedly agree Myth. I don’t always agree with Ray, but the logic he uses to support his arguments are difficult to argue with. One of my favorite debate opponent/partners (depending on what we are discussing)!

      • Oct 26, 2017 at 3:05 pm

        It is not difficult to see who belongs on the 3rd and 4th lines.
        If you can’t figure it out, that’s when we have a problem. Glass and Fasth belong on what line? Butch belongs on what lines? Stop defending satan its unbecoming of you.

        • Oct 26, 2017 at 3:29 pm

          Doing the Scooby head turn

          • Oct 26, 2017 at 3:36 pm

            Scooby-Dooby-Doo, Where Are You?
            We got some work to do now.
            Scooby-Dooby-Doo, Where Are You?
            We need some help from you now.
            Come on Scooby-Doo, I see you… pretending you got a sliver
            But you’re not fooling me, cause I can see, the way you shake and shiver.
            You know we got a mystery to solve,
            So Scooby Doo be ready for your act. [Scooby Doo] Uh-uh Uh-uh
            Don’t hold back!
            And Scooby Doo if you come through
            you’re going to have yourself a scooby snack!
            That’s a fact!
            Scooby-Dooby-Doo, here Are You.
            You’re ready and you’re willing.
            If we can count on you Scooby Doo,
            I know you’ll catch that villian. AV

            • Oct 26, 2017 at 6:04 pm

              Proving once again that some people never progress above the Scooby-doo level of conscious thought.

      • Oct 26, 2017 at 5:08 pm

        To write that AV’s player evaluations are increasingly misplaced is merely a statement of fact.How AV values players directly plays out in his successive decreasing point totals.

  • Oct 26, 2017 at 6:44 pm


    Considering what a Torts fan you are, I have to applaud you for your objective analysis of Torts vs AV. But you should have ended the article before citing examples such as Sheppard (who never played another NHL game), Etem (who will likely never play in the NHL again, and Clendo (who 7 different organizations have concluded is nothing more than a 7D). To say those are examples of AV’s misuse is really a reach.

  • Oct 26, 2017 at 10:33 pm

    AV would’t get fired, he would take the Rangers to the playoff as the No.8 seed and lost in the first round like he always does.

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