Friday, June 21, 2013

'Allo Vigneault

The decisions has been made, Glen Sather has made the call: Alain Vigneault is the new head coach of the New York Rangers.

Yet again, the Manhattan team has settled for mediocrity instead of reaching for something better. Vigneault has been to the Stanley Cup Finals just once in 10-plus NHL seasons, and lost that one time with the Canucks being bested by the Bruins. He has one career championship, coming a quarter-century ago in the QMJHL.

But we don't care about championships in New York, we care about corporate money and that will come with consistent regular season success - something Vigneault had in his seven seasons in Vancity. Unlike his predecessor, AV is affable and easy going, and an easy sell to the suits. And, frankly, that is all that the Blueshirt bosses care about nowadays. They need to grab as much big business money as they can to help pay off the fan-unfriendly renovation.

Like his predecessor, Vigneault stuggles to make strategy changes and is a big fan of line juggling. He leans heavily on his stars and his team goes as far as they will take them. In Vancouver he was primarily a three-line guy, so don't expect the Rangers to pull a page out of the recent Cup winners' playbook and suddenly be a four-line team. He will give the forwards more freedom, to be sure, but that could expose our atrocious bottom three defensemen even more then they had been in the last few seasons.

Vigneault's power play, despite the telepathic link between the Sedins, went a below-average 15.8% ... the Rangers went 15.7% and the teams were 22nd and 23rd overall. For fellow fight fans, who knows what we will get: Vancouver had 28 majors last year to the Rangers' 18, but the season the Canucks went the distance they were 23rd overall (with 29, the Rangers were sixth with 62).

This particular coach is not big on this generation of kids: of the 36 players drafted by Vancouver from 2006-2011 just seven have played in the NHL and just two are regulars ... both with other teams (Hodgson and Grabner). This last season just five Canucks 25 years old or under played more than three games in the big league. That being said, there were plenty of home-grown Canucks on the roster - the Sedins, Burrows, Edler, Bieksa, Schneider, Kesler, Raymond, Hansen, etc.

Frankly, the hiring of Vigneault just looks like the NHL coaching carousel is going around, rearranging chairs on the deck of sinking ships. Sadly we know that with Glen Sather at the helm, the SS Rangers is not aiming towards the tropical waters of paradise but sailing through known seas simply trying not to hit icebergs.

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