Thoughts on the firing of Alain Vigneault

In case you missed it, and if you did I’m not sure how, the Rangers fired head coach Alain Vigneault last Saturday night. It was a move that was expected, but I don’t think any of us expected it to happen so soon. After all, it happened at 11pm on a Saturday night, just five hours after the 2017-2018 season ended for the Rangers. It was a sign that AV was gone from the get-go, and was coaching for his next job once the rebuild was announced. As always, I have some thoughts.

1. First things first, AV’s firing was long overdue. Personally, I think he should have been fired after last year’s playoff debacle against Ottawa. He was no longer a coach that was going to drive this team forward. There are many reasons why he needed to go, but the overall summary is that he was a square peg in a round hole.

2. The biggest reason for his departure is due to his systems and his inability to adjust. AV is a solid coach. His counterattacking system generates solid chances on a regular basis. However it is a predictable system and one that requires the right set of players. After the 2014-2015 season, the opposition was able to counter the Rangers very easily, leading to a huge shift in how the Blueshirts looked on the ice. Couple that with some roster changes, and AV’s stubbornness with his system led to his downfall.

3. There were also personnel issues. JT Miller and Pavel Buchnevich are the two most recent examples of players who were yo-yo’d by the coach. But I think the biggest issue was with Keith Yandle. The Blueshirts gave up major assets for Yandle, who was given bottom-pairing minutes and PP2 time. It’s the PP2 time that really rubbed people the wrong way.

4. It’s also worth noting that Henrik Lundqvist hid a lot of the issues with the team. Kind of like how Roberto Luongo hid a lot of issues in Vancouver. This goes back to the systems conversation. Elite goalending masks a lot, and AV has been unable to identify the true issues with his teams due to this.

5. All that said, we might be having a different conversation if the puck doesn’t hop over Dan Girardi’s stick in Game 1 against the Kings. Or if the refs get goalie interference right in Game 2. Or if Ryan McDonagh doesn’t break his foot in 2015. Or if McDonagh doesn’t almost kill (literally) Mats Zuccarello that same year. If luck breaks differently, we might be talking about AV’s successes instead of why he was fired. As a side note, I firmly believe the 2015 team wins the Cup if Zuccarello and McDonagh are healthy.

6. I also am of the belief that AV’s refusal to answer questions openly is what led to fans turning on him. There were never any straight answers to his roster decisions. It was always vague, which left us to interpret, or in most cases, guess. A coach doesn’t need to divulge his strategy, but there should be some level of accountability for roster decisions, like playing Tanner Glass over numerous, more skilled, players.

7. In the end, the next coach is going to need to be a coach who can transition the young Rangers to the next level. The status quo of recycling coaches probably won’t cut it this time around. We will be spending a good amount of space looking at potential replacements. Stay tuned.

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  • Spot on Dave. I firmly believe also about Zucc and McD being healthy we would have won the cup then. That was a good Team. AV is a great coach, but his shelf life here was due to change.. Cheers

  • Point 2 was my biggest issue with AV, particularly the predictability issue and the over-dependence on forwards flying the zone for break outs that inevitably became few and far between as the better teams (and some not-so better ones) adjusted to the strategy. This also exacerbated the problems with the D as they didn’t get the help from the forwards that they needed.

    Full agree on Point 5. Without those injuries they lift the Cup in 2015. Though its still hard to see how they could get so dominated in two home games while beating Tampa Bay easily on their home ice. Game 7 is somewhat understandable, but not Game 5.

    On Point 3, yeah Buch got jerked around way too much but in fairness he has been guilty of passive, indifferent play at times. With JT there were apparently a lot of behind-the-scenes issues – just a bad mix of personalities. I’m not crying a lot of tears over him. His renaissance in TB is mostly due to playing with Stamkos and Kucherov. JT was probably going to be traded after the season and now Namestnikov will take his place either on the roster or as a trade chip. Yandle, yeah, should’ve been on PP1. I have much less issue with how he was used 5×5.

    Finally, I agree that it was time to move on from AV. He brought a lot to the team in his first two seasons but was ultimately a bad fit for the organization going forward. However, he was hardly the only problem with the team the past two seasons. Neither Scotty Bowman nor Toe Blake nor Al Arbour could have made a silk purse out this season’s sow’s ear of a roster, Its no accident that they’ve discharged the coach (and, I hope, all of his staff outside of Allaire) and quite a few of the players.

  • Addition by subtraction. The Rangers are a better team now than 3 days ago. They can win with these forwards. Resign Grabner. The Defense needs overhaul. Keep Shatty, Skjei & Pionk. The rest must be wise moves by Gorton. Need a couple of good positional studs on D.

  • is there a link anywhere to his post-game media address from Saturday?

    I’ve been looking but could not find one…

  • #4


    Without his 2 HOF goalies this guy has 60 less wins on his record.
    How many games have we watched Henrik make a big save, keep them in it..

    He also borrowed the team Torts left him and year by year push it under the water.

    Teams under AV are like pieces of Gum, at the start, nice, new, with flavor…
    Then the Frenchman chews, and chews, chews and keep chewing…
    Your left with a small ball of tasteless mush that needs to be rebuilt…


  • Trenchant deconstruction, Dave.


    Now let’s hope Gorton and Slats can agree on going bold and imaginative with our next bench boss.

    To that end Dave, do you have a sense of a shortlist?

    Skimming TSN, or The Hockey News the broad consensus is a group of five Next Gen coaching personalities (not necessarily linked to us): from Keefe to Rocky Thompson and Mike Van Ryn among them.

  • I feel bad that AV was fired. Just kidding. I feel bad no other coach got a shot at coaching the great players we had together and all for nothing.

    • He’s going to get re-hired in Montreal, where he will ride Price for 2000 games with 50:15 shots on goal differential.

  • I see Arniel was let go also. I actually like AV but, his system didn’t change over the last couple years and he was unwilling to adapt. They might need a untraditional coach in here. Many teams went to that approach and are successful.

  • If ifs and buts were candy & nuts, it’d be Christmas every day and AV still would’ve been fired.

    He should’ve been let go after the 2015-16 season as it became apparent he didn’t know how to manage the regular season to be ready to win the cup.

    The system was bad and got worse, he couldn’t change his tactics to account for his forward talent and he forgot to account for the fact is that there aren’t bad teams to feast on during the playoffs.

  • I posted my feeling on this subject soooooooo many times that I sounded like a broken record. Now all I will say is thank goodness the organization saw the light, and showed this buffoon the door!!!!!!!!!

    Reenavipul above said it all, so I don’t want to repeat it, good job Reen!!!!!!!!!!

  • Dave,
    FANTASTIC, gif. You could not have picked a better one.

    Funny, or maybe not, how AV’s demeanor behind the bench changed once the rebuild was announced. Maybe he should have been so serious from the start of the season……..

    Now a note to all of us who wanted AV gone. And I am CERTAINLY one of those.
    I hope we show a sense of patience with whoever we hire. Next year will be painful, and we better get used to that idea.

    What an interesting offseason this year will be!

    As far as the playoffs, obviously I’ll be rooting for Tampa to win the Cup, as should we all, so next years second rounder turns into their first. I will be pulling for all of the ex-Rangers to have a sensational playoffs as individuals!!

    • I’m undecided if I am going to refer to the Lightning throughout the playoffs as the “Tampa Bay Rangers”, or “Rangers South”…maybe I will flip a coin. Or come up with something a little more clever.

    • I hear you about getting the first rounder. But it would be pretty heart-wrenching to see all of those guys lift the cup in a Tampa sweater….

      Callahan. Stralman. Girardi. Miller. McDonagh.


  • Yep, you all got what you wanted, the coach with the 10th-most wins in NHL history, and a couple of bounces from a Stanley Cup, has been fired. I hope this works to the extent all the hockey geniuses here think it will. I guess it had to be done; we’ll see. Yeah if this coach didn’t have Hank he would have had 60 fewer wins. And if Tom Coughlin didn’t have Eli Manning, chances are he wouldn’t have two Lombardi trophies. Again I’ll just say I don’t want to hear the wailing and crying when this team is battling Buffalo for last place next March. This might take a while.

    Hope it works; if it does, I’ll be happy too. Enjoy your summer, everyone.

    Regards- orange

    • Come on orange, we should have re-signed AV for a 15 year extension, right??????? The man was way over his head whenever he got into the PO’s.

      From Larry’s post below:

      How can a NHL coach still has a job after losing 3 games in a playoff series, all in the last 5 minutes of the game? AV should be let go after last year’s playoff debacle.

      Not to put you, or anyone else down, but the man was a disaster waiting to happen, and it usually did in the PO’s, like forgetting his best D pair on the bench for Staal & Holden!!!!!!!!!

      • And let Hank play through a knee injury for the whole frickin season.

        A guy who can’t see the forest through the trees.

  • Agree A.V. had to go, but remember this it’s hard to play young players when every point is need these days to make the playoffs. Also when you make the playoffs for years and give up young players and draft picks then your future is in trouble. Since 1967 the Rangers HAVE HAD ONLY 1 TOP 5 DRAFT PICK! Look at teams who’ve won the cup and you will see a couple of top 5 picks.

  • Dave’s first point is right on the money…how can a NHL coach still has a job after losing 3 games in a playoff series, all in the last 5 minutes of the game? AV should be let go after last year’s playoff debacle.

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