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Is Vigneault angling for a shakeup in New York?

Dec 10, 2013, 1:29 PM EDT

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 04: Alain Vigneault head coach of the New York Rangers following a 2-1 defeat by the Anaheim Ducks at Madison Square Garden on November 4, 2013 in New York City. Getty Images

It’s either the case of a coach trying to fire up his players… or a coach that’s tired of his players.

That’s the big debate in New York right now with Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault. The former Canucks bench boss has been remarkably (and frequently) candid  in voicing his displeasure with his team this year, as the Rangers sit 15-15-1 and on the edge of the playoff picture.

Consider what Vigneault’s said already, all of this coming within the first 31 games of the season:

On Benoit Pouliot:

“You only get so many kicks at the can here, you only get so many teams. Obviously a guy like Ben, a high pick, a high skill level, you see it now and then and you go, ‘Wow, why does the inconsistency or whatever is, not there on a more regular basis?”

On Michael Del Zotto:

“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.”

On the Rangers’ defense in general:

“The only one on D, in my opinion, that has really not only has played up to expectations but you see a lot of upswings with is [Ryan] McDonagh. All of the other guys, I think, have better to give. We’re going to need them to give better.”

On the inability to score goals:

“We’re getting quality chances, but there’s a segment that tells us we’re not scoring a lot. Maybe we have to play even tighter to the vest than we are and go into games with that mentality of 2-1.”

On Sunday’s players-only meeting:

“You can talk all you want behind closed doors. It’s on the 200-by-85 [rink] that things are decided. Without a doubt, our compete level is a .500 compete level. When the other team scores a goal, we don’t seem to have much of a push.”

At this point, it’s fair to suggest Vigneault isn’t enthralled with his current roster. There have been peripheral moves (waiving and recalling Arron Asham, shuffling J.T. Miller between Hartford and New York, trading Brandon Mashinter for Kyle Beach) and a variety of healthy scratches (Pouliot, Del Zotto, Taylor Pyatt) but those don’t appear to have sufficiently shaken things up.

So, what can be done?

It’s obvious Vigneault wants more “compete” and wouldn’t mind a fresh look on defense, but making moves will be tough. New York is in a unique spot given its financial outlook for this year (less than $1 million away from the cap ceiling) is the polar opposite of next year, with just $39 million committed to nine players for 2014-15.

As for what Vigneault wants the Rangers to look like?

“I look at the Detroit Red Wings—who I know well, because I coached against them for the last seven years—they’ve had no toughness, per se, as far as that type of personality, at no point other than [Jordin] Tootoo the last couple of years, but those guys play hard,” Vigneault explained, as per Newsday. “They have the puck and they say “Try and get it from me” or if they don’t have it, they battle like hell to get it back. That’s the team toughness that I’m hoping we get here.

“Maybe we’ll get there by changing some personnel, adding a little more toughness, we’re at .500, I’m trying.”

  1. sjsharks66 - Dec 10, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    The fact the himself and Torts both have been so frustrated with this team, that they feel the need to call them out, should tell you something. It should tell upper management something as well. The problem with New York is not the coaching. They have a solid goalie locked up, but the rest of the team are just duds.
    I see it as the norm in NY to blame the coaches. The players do not give the energy and at the end of the day they probably say to themselves it is the coaches fault.

    They need to make some big moves. I am not talking stupid moves like the Nash deal..

    • stakex - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:24 PM

      You know, Torts never really called the team out like this. Everyone made a big deal of it when he answered a question about Hagelin (who doesn’t play on the Rangers PP this year btw) honestly… but other than that he never made many public statements like the ones AV is making.

      I’d also point out that this team never played this bad under Torts. The core they have made it to within two games of the Cup finals two years ago…. so there is some ability there. AV is just really bad at getting it to the surface. That’s not to say I don’t agree that big moves are needed, but its needed… but this team is still not playing as well as they can.

      • xdj511 - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:39 PM

        I agree about the big moves statement, but the problem is that the Rangers are pretty much right up against the cap. They’re not really going to be able to make any kind of impact move this season because they can’t take on any more salary. If they don’t figure this out with the roster they have they’re going to flounder along for the rest of the season. Maybe the best thing would be for them to fall far enough out of the playoff picture by the deadline so that we can unload a few contacts, even dealing Callahan and Girardi for prospects and then signing them back when they become UFAs.

      • stakex - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:49 PM

        The cap space argument is based on a single premise though: The Rangers deal for a big name player without giving anything up. That’s just not realistic however.

        If the Rangers were to move any of Brassard, Callahan, Stepan, Girardi, Del Zotto, or Hagelin in a deal it would free up significant cap space. My fellow Rangers fans seem to consider it heresy to talk about trading most of those guys, but none of them have proven to be irreplaceable point production machines. I mean if you can lose with them, you can lose without them… and change just might help. Its also possible the Rangers won’t be able to keep both Girardi and Callahan, so trading one of them now for some help on offense would be a smart move.

    • ejbigg - Dec 10, 2013 at 3:40 PM

      I agree the team needs a bit of a shake up, but they should be careful not to do anything too drastic.

      And the Nash trade was not a stupid move. They weren’t going to win the Cup with the team they had and Nash is their best player nearly every night. They did give up a few key players in the trade and consequently through free agency (Dubinsky, Anisimov, and Prust) but once this team gets the right players to compliment its core they will be happy they have him. Nash is signed long term, he is an investment more than anything and you can’t make a knee-jerk reaction after only 70-something games.

  2. xdj511 - Dec 10, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    So…. you’re trying to tell me that Torts wasn’t just being Torts? The team was actually making him crazy? Who would’ve thought? We bring in a supposedly more low-key guy like AV and he starts ripping his team to the media too. Next thing you know he’ll be making all of those grimaces behind the bench and gesticulating wildly, shouting at his players and giving brief confrontational interviews. Maybe it’s not the man, maybe it’s the job.

  3. sjsharks66 - Dec 10, 2013 at 1:53 PM

    Maybe, look at Torts in Vancouver. He seemed to have calmed down…slightly.

    • ghostm121 - Dec 10, 2013 at 8:24 PM

      He has not just calmed down slightly, the media loves him, maybe that will change, but they love his honesty and he has been very calm post game even in loss’s.

      Im pretty sure gillis told him to tone it down and he has admitted it, dont know why sather could not do that.

  4. daniel10017 - Dec 10, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    The first move the Rangers must make is to fire Glen Sather. Everything he touches turns to dust. Listen to Sting’s new song: “Everything little thing he does is Tragic”.

    • xdj511 - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:03 PM

      Almost everything he touches turns to dust. He makes one brilliant move per decade (see: Gomez for McDonagh) and that buys him another decade.

    • gaborik104life - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:08 PM

      Except the addition of Mcdonagh just saying and that’s off the top of my head. More negative than positive no doubt but he has made some good signings, and trades just far more terrible signings, and trades.

    • stakex - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:27 PM

      Dolan will never fire Sather. Until he decides to retire, or dies, Sather will unfortunately be the Rangers GM.

      • jaybyrd99 - Dec 10, 2013 at 5:15 PM

        And thats the sad part . Dolan will never fire lord sather. I mean there have been 5 or 6 coaches under his helm( including his own sorry attempt)and he’s the last constant !
        So he’s made a good move here and there, but he’s also flubbed a lot and the overall record under his tenure is pitiful.

  5. hosewater2 - Dec 10, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    Could it be that the talent level on this team is just not that high? Nash may have been a former #1 overall but that was an extremely weak draft class. Guy is useful when healthy but not a superstar at this point. Lundqvist and McDonagh are top flight players, not convinced of the rest of the team.

    • xdj511 - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:06 PM

      I must respectfully disagree about Nash. Since he’s come back from his concussion he’s made three or four power moves for goals that few other players in the NHL are capable. Maybe just OV and Malkin. He just doesn’t have the talent around him to get him the puck in high scoring areas. He’s had to take the puck to the net, powering through the top D-men in the league, in order to score his goals, but he’s still managed something like 6 goals in the last 8 games.

    • gaborik104life - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:10 PM

      I have to disagree the talent level with some players is very high, the consistency and work ethic on the other hand leave more to be wanted for the majority of the roster.

  6. crazemastercraze - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:15 PM

    So it takes Carnac to see that management is the problem with this team? Sheesh…

  7. stakex - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:39 PM

    AV sounds like the biggest wimp of a coach I have ever heard. He does little to hold players not named Del Zotto accountable, but than goes to the media to whine about the team. If he grew a set, and actually got tough on the players including benching them when they make terrible players, perhaps they would show a little more desire to not suck. Instead he sits behind the bench like a limp noddle, and than slinks off to the media after the game to cry to the media.

    I think the lineup needs major changes as well, but I wouldn’t shed a single tear if Sather fired AV either. I can understand why the Canucks never won the Cup with him, and I doubt the Rangers ever will either. He has no heart.

  8. stakex - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:40 PM

    Oh and correction to the article: The Rangers actually hold the 3rd playoff spot from the Met division right now since Carolina lost last night. Doesn’t really matter at this point, but they are far from “out of the playoff picture”.

  9. hockeykrishna - Dec 10, 2013 at 3:11 PM

    Not sure why AV goes with the “nuclear” option? Once you bad mouth your guys in public, it’s going to go one of two ways. They completely bail out and hope it gets you fired, or, they pick up the effort. Based on what we saw with Torts, I’m guessing it’s parachute time. Worse, this can’t help but divide the room a lot more, as the gulf between the “AV Likes me” and “AV Hates me” guys can only get worse……

    I’ll bet some of these “poor effort” players will be huge pickups for the teams that get them for next to nothing, and they flourish outside of this asylum.

  10. DED - Dec 10, 2013 at 4:07 PM

    Bring back Prust!

  11. banger60 - Dec 10, 2013 at 6:44 PM

    Bring back anybody!

  12. stepanup - Dec 10, 2013 at 8:32 PM

    Blow this team up. No heart. No battle. No effort. Everything I loved about the Rangers two years ago is gone. AH.

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