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Vigneault: I was told Del Zotto is good, but I’m not seeing it

Nov 20, 2013, 1:20 PM EDT

VigneaultRangers Getty Images

If there were any doubts Michael Del Zotto was in the doghouse, his head coach erased them on Wednesday.

“I have been told he is a much better player,” Alain Vigneault said of Del Zotto, as per the Rangers’ Twitter account. “I have not seen that on a consistent enough basis.

“We’ll see how he responds.”

Del Zotto, who has been a healthy scratch in three straight games, will likely draw back into the lineup for Thursday’s game in Dallas, which could be a showcase more than anything else. Trade speculation has heated up around the 23-year-old rearguard, with reports surfacing on Tuesday night linking Del Zotto to Ottawa.

This development marks a pretty quick fall from grace for Del Zotto. Last season, he signed a two-year, $5.1 million extension and proceeded to score 21 points in 46 games, leading all Rangers defensemen in scoring.

Through 16 games this year, he has just four points and is averaging a career-low 18:28 TOI per game.

Worth noting that it’s not uncommon for Vigneault to put defensemen in his doghouse. He routinely banished Keith Ballard to the press box during his time in Vancouver and, prior to Ballard, often made Shane O’Brien a healthy scratch (though to be fair, Ballard was used sparingly because he didn’t fit the Canucks’ scheme; O’Brien’s issues often stemmed from a lack of fitness and maturity.)

Del Zotto hasn’t said much in response to being a healthy scratch but, following his third straight game in the press box, admitted the situation was getting to him.

“Frustration,” he told Newsday. “It’s something you never want. You always work so hard to play and you always want to be playing. And that’s what I’ve done my whole life.”

UPDATE: We do read the comments section on PHT and appreciate feedback, and it appears some have taken issue with this headline. I genuinely don’t think it’s an issue but, since some do, here is the entire quote (courtesy the Bergen Record).

“I can only speak for what I’ve seen so far, and what I’ve seen so far on our team as far as our defensive corps is playing, is he’s fighting for one of the regular six spots,” Vigneault said. “A player like Michael has to play to his strengths. I’ve been told his strengths are his ability to beat the forecheck, join the rush, help out on the power play and get shots through. I have not seen that on a consistent enough basis for him to be able to say he’s going to be in the lineup every night. Some other Ds can have an off night, you’re going to throw them back in even though they have. Michael in the 20 some odd games that I’ve been here has not shown that consistently enough.  We’ll see how he responds and we’ll go from there.

“He is supposed to be a skating defenseman that can beat the forecheck, that can join the rush and obviously has the ability to chip in on the power play,” Vigneault added. “That means he can get a shot through, he can see people that are open around the net. I’ve seen that throughout the span that I’ve been here but I haven’t seen it consistently enough to say he warrants a regular spot all the time. I can only go by what I’ve seen and with what my coaches are seeing. I wasn’t here in the past.”

As always, feel free to voice your opinions below.

  1. ethanmacleod1685 - Nov 20, 2013 at 1:24 PM

    Well that was taken out of context

    • ethanmacleod1685 - Nov 20, 2013 at 1:25 PM

      Your better than that PHT

      • thailer35 - Nov 20, 2013 at 1:36 PM

        You’re. And did you just respond to yourself in the third person?

      • thailer35 - Nov 20, 2013 at 1:38 PM

        Ignore the second part of my comment. I read your comment as You’re better than PHT.

      • ethanmacleod1685 - Nov 20, 2013 at 5:42 PM

        Hahaha what an idiot *you are*, that better?

  2. thomasvanek - Nov 20, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    C’mon Mike that is clearly a stretch of the truth with that title. If you are going to word it that way you can’t put quotes around if for god’s sake.

    • thomasvanek - Nov 20, 2013 at 1:33 PM

      Ignore the second sentence

  3. thomasvanek - Nov 20, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    C’mon Mike that is clearly a stretch of the truth with that title.

  4. mp1131211 - Nov 20, 2013 at 1:43 PM

    Halford- change the title, man. He didn’t say that. You make him sound like he ripped del zotto a new one when in reality he was tactfully discussing a players struggles.

    Come on….

    • imleftcoast - Nov 20, 2013 at 3:05 PM

      I have to agree with the commenters. There’s a gap between the quote, which is pretty fair, and the headline, which is that AV ripped another defensemen a new one.

  5. mp1131211 - Nov 20, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    And suddenly, I just remebered that I am reading a bunch of bloggers two cents, not sports journalists covering the NHL news. PHT will always be… Just a blog

    • Mike Halford - Nov 20, 2013 at 1:58 PM

      “I have been told he is a much better player…I have not seen that on a consistent enough basis…we’ll see how he responds.”

      That’s the quote, verbatim. I don’t see why my headline is such a stretch.

      • skr213 - Nov 20, 2013 at 2:06 PM

        The fact that you don’t see why the headline is a stretch is actually more disturbing that your original choice to do that headline. It’s one thing if you’re just deliberately being provocative, it’s something else if you’re just being dumb.

      • skr213 - Nov 20, 2013 at 2:08 PM

        *than (not “that”) in first sentence

      • mp1131211 - Nov 20, 2013 at 2:24 PM

        OK- what if I “paraphrased” what you said above reply in the same likes that you did with Vigneault’s words to create my own story.

        Headline: Halford: I don’t understand it.
        Tagline: Beleuagured PHT writer can’t find common ground with readers, irate over comment.

        Not so fun when its you, is it?

        The tone you struck in your constructed headline is not the tone of the comment made by Vigneault. By replacing “a much better player” with “good” and “that on a consistent basis” with “it”, you constructed a non-existent slam on a player by a coach implying that he said del zotto isn’t even good. When I read the headline, I clicked with enthusiasm. I think I might have even spit my coffee a bit. “What!?! Oh, damn! That’s going to cause an uproar!” I think those were my exact words (yes I talk to myself at work).

        Halford- I have a lot of respect for you. Usually, it seems that integrity is up there on your list of priorities for your posts, more so than many nhl news sources out there. Please keep it that way. I like coming here.


      • Mike Halford - Nov 20, 2013 at 2:27 PM

        Well, it was kinda fun. People don’t write about me often. And by “often” I mean “ever.”

        Good feedback and I appreciate you explaining where you’re coming from. And please, continue to keep reading and clicking on any number of our advertorial banners.

      • nyrfan - Nov 20, 2013 at 7:31 PM

        Because you took the quote and cut it to make it sound controversial. It really wasn’t any more than a coach giving a player a kick in the pants. I think Ulf & Scott are working with him while he was a healthy scratch the last week. You shouldn’t put Quotation marks if you’re going to change it to interest people for the wrong reason. If the Rangers can get 40 point Del Zotto to come to the Arena then they’re one of the NHL’s elite. That is the only thing that separates the NY Rangers from the last 3 cup teams.

  6. travishenryskid - Nov 20, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    Remember when one of your bloggers suggested Del Zotto for Yakupov? Yeah, that happened. I bet the Oilers would be all over that…

  7. nunan - Nov 20, 2013 at 2:21 PM

    All players struggle. He’ll snap out of it. Marchand is the same in Boston. These guys have shown they’re good players at that level. Patience!

    • hockey412 - Nov 20, 2013 at 3:00 PM

      I can think of 2.9 MILLION reasons not to be patient with that clown.

      (Actually was just stirring the pot – I agree with what you were saying, just wanted to be a smart as*)

  8. stepanup - Nov 20, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    Very happy that the actual quote is a much less abrasive than the provocative title. I was afraid Torts left his demon in New York and AV was going to start ripping players in 10 words or less. I still have hopes for DZ in New York, and to be blunt it’s not as though Justin Falk has been impressive and locked down that 6th defenseman slot. However, if the Rangers can net a top 6 scoring winger for DZ, my target is Fleischmann, then sure, lets make a run at it this year.

  9. hockey412 - Nov 20, 2013 at 2:58 PM

    I like the article and the title, for what it’s worth.

    Of course I don’t like Del Zotto and would love it if he continued to watch from the press box…

    • nyrfan - Nov 21, 2013 at 12:59 PM

      That’d be a total waste. Why have 2.5 mil in the press box? Falk was signed to be the 7th Dman. Play 15-25 games this year. Be able to fill in for injuries or just give a top 6 defenseman a spell. DZ has twice scored 37 points or more. Including 41 in 11/12. The talent is there. He just needs a good game or 2 so he builds some confidence. Then he makes the NYR a better team. Falk at his best doesn’t do that. Although he played well for the most part in 3 games.

  10. davebabychreturns - Nov 20, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    If you stuck “enough” on the end of that headline none of these whiners would have a leg to stand on.

    As it is, I loaded up the PHT front page, saw the title and thought “whoa that’s unusually blunt for AV,” read the first two paragraphs and thought “ahh. Well the title’s a bit misleading but not really incorrect, oh well what can you do.”

    Did not really expect to see a firestorm in the comments nevermind one that prompted an update to the original story.. yeesh.

  11. amityvillefun - Nov 20, 2013 at 3:36 PM

    Funny, isn’t that what Vancouver said about Vigneault before they canned him?

    We “thought” he was good?

    I’m glad Claude Julien was a better coach in the 2011 finals, that’s for sure!

    Vigneault sucks. I’d take Torts over him any day of the week. Just for the tirades alone.

  12. stakex - Nov 20, 2013 at 4:09 PM

    But Justin Falk, who is a -2 and has all of one goal in his entire NHL career is better in the lineup? Give me a break. The Rangers need offense, and while Del Zotto has been cold to start the season he does have offensive ability…. to not play him with the team struggling so bad for offense is a crime. Justin Falk is NOT going to help the offense, and he’s no better on defense.

    I hope the Rangers tank, and AV gets fired this year. Its the best thing that could happen in the long run.

  13. bleedrangerblue - Nov 20, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    Hate to see MDZ getting bashed. Hope he picks his game up. Want to see him a Ranger for years to come. C’mon Michael step up…..

  14. slobberface - Nov 20, 2013 at 10:21 PM

    I don’t have a problem with the headline. That’s pretty much what I take away from AV’s quote. Give me all the down votes you want.

  15. hockeyfan763 - Nov 21, 2013 at 8:11 AM

    Time to step up and play better DZ. The facts are he has not played well this year and I root for him. Rangers have some good young D-men in Hartford as well and eventually someone has to be moved to make room. McIlrath was a first round pick still stuck in Hartford. Be good or be gone.

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