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Sather says new Rangers coach Vigneault ‘loves the offensive game’

Jun 21, 2013, 12:46 PM EDT

Vancouver Canucks v Boston Bruins - Game Six Getty Images

We touched on this a couple of days ago, but the topic is worth revisiting after Alain Vigneault was introduced as the new head coach of the New York Rangers Friday morning at Radio City Music Hall.

Before we get to what was said today, let’s first read what was written about Vigneault, right after the Canucks fired him last month, by undoubtedly his biggest media critic during his time in Vancouver, The Province’s Tony Gallagher:

AV’s roots are in defensive hockey, while the team he coached was built to attack. At times he fought his instincts and the team did well, but at other times, particularly when the club had injury problems, he would revert to his comfort zone of dump-it-in, dump-it-out hockey. That’s fine with bigger, lesser skilled teams. Not with this roster. And when the Canucks tried to play that way the past two seasons when it counted, in the playoffs, it’s been hideous.

This change is long, long overdue.

Now, it should be noted that not everyone agrees with Gallagher all the time. But when Rangers GM Glen Sather says this morning that he made the hiring decision in large part because Vigneault “loves the offensive game,” well, it sort of stands out. Because it almost makes it sound like Vigneault is the philosophical opposite of the last Rangers coach, John Tortorella, who Sather said he fired because the “game has changed” and teams don’t win with dump-and-chase hockey anymore.

Vigneault, not surprisingly, met the issue in the middle, explaining it’s important to “play well at both ends of the rink.” If there’s space to get creative, get creative. If not, make the “high-percentage play,” i.e. dump it in (or out, if you’re defending).

He also said — and this is probably the key part — that a team has to “put a system in place that maximizes the talent you have.” For example, when he first came to Vancouver in 2006, the “skill level wasn’t as high” as it was later in his tenure when the Canucks ranked among the highest-scoring teams in the NHL.

So here’s the big question — what does Vigneault think of the current Rangers roster?

“I feel in New York our skill base is pretty solid,” he said.

  1. bcsteele - Jun 21, 2013 at 12:58 PM

    Not a Ranger fan or hater but I mentioned in a previous post that New York would be dumb to buy out Richards THIS summer. MAYBE next summer, but now that they have a new coach I really want to see what Nash and Richards can do when they are off the leash.

    Honestly, I think they’ll miss Gaborik next year and they should have made a coaching change before moving him, but I know that’s up for debate.

    • ironyisadeadscene - Jun 21, 2013 at 1:08 PM

      Agreed, the Sedin twins aren’t walking through those doors so good luck to A.V. with what Torts/Sather left for him

    • villi5ed - Jun 21, 2013 at 7:24 PM

      Rangers fan here. Gaborik if healthy will likely be missed during the regular season — but I’m still not sure if he
      can truly help propel a team to a Cup. I wish Gabby all the best, but give me Hossa over him 9.5 times out of 10.

    • stakex - Jun 22, 2013 at 2:20 PM

      Gaborik didn’t struggle because of the Rangers system. He scored 40 goals twice under Torts… something he only did one other time in his eight seasons before joining the Rangers. So the idea that Torts was bad for Gaborik is laughable.

      He struggled because he is simply an up and down player, and because he’s made of balsa wood. Even in the years he did score 40 goals, he would have large stretches where he was simply invisible… and others where he was clearly playing through injuries and was ineffective.

      Its also worth pointing out that his numbers didn’t improve much in Columbus after the trade, scoring just 3 goals in 12 games…. the same pace he was on with the Rangers this season.

  2. thedavesiknowiknow - Jun 21, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    I have a crazy feeling Lundquist’s numbers are going to take a dive this season.

    • idonthavethebloodyoucrave - Jun 21, 2013 at 2:03 PM

      In combination of that, not having a coaching strategy that centers around the entire team blocking all the higher percentage shots for their goaltender, and the possible change to the goalie equipment, that’s very likely.

    • villi5ed - Jun 21, 2013 at 7:40 PM

      I don’t know about that. His numbers when Renney was coaching (and not demanding shot blocking the way Torts did) were pretty scary good. And in this year’s playoffs against the Bruins? Lots of goals when those shot blockers in front of him did not succeed in doing anything but screening Henrik.

      • idonthavethebloodyoucrave - Jun 21, 2013 at 9:24 PM

        I dunno what stats you’re looking at …

        Under Renney, Henry had a .916 SV percentage and a 2.34 GAA.

        That’s pretty scary average.

  3. larrybiv - Jun 22, 2013 at 10:33 AM

    I’m sure Hank wouldn’t mind his GAA going down 0.25 or so, if it means we score at least a Goal Per Game more. That would translate to more wins. simple, easy as that !!

  4. larrybiv - Jun 22, 2013 at 10:34 AM

    My bad…obviously I meant going up.

  5. larrybiv - Jun 22, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    This may work out for both teams. Vancouver needs more “all around play”, and the Rangers need to instill a creative offense. A blend of what was left behind by their previous coach, and the newly hired. What coach will fare better? I think AV has a better shot. The defense and Goaltending are already there…..heightening the skills of the repressed players in NY, is his main challenge. Richards anyone?

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