The Rangers have announced that they will introduce Alain Vigneault as the new head coach Friday afternoon during a press conference from Radio City Music Hall. Vigneault officially signed his five-year $10 million contract this week. It is assumed that the Rangers may announce the assistant coaches at this press conference. Previous head coach John Tortorella was fired shortly after Memorial Day, and it is likely that assistants Mike Sullivan and Jim Schoenfeld will also be relieved of their coaching positions.
Per Larry Brooks, Henrik Lundqvist made his first public comments since his “Comments heard ’round the world” that set all of New York into a panic. Per Brooks, Lundqvist denied having any say in the decision to fire John Tortorella:
“I know there is some speculation regarding Torts being fired, but let’s be clear on one thing,” Lundqvist said via an e-mail on Wednesday that contained his first comments on the matter. “It’s not my call who the coach should be for the New York Rangers.
“I would never put pressure on the management on decisions like that. I’m just a player. My focus is to play the game and do the best I can on the ice. Whatever [happens] off the ice, I leave to our great staff we have working for this club.”
Lundqvist elaborated on his comments a little more, and it’s definitely a good read on the whole Hank situation.
While this has not officially happened yet, the rumors are abound that the Flyers have informed Danny Briere that the organization will use one of their two compliance buyouts on the 35-year-old winger and his $6.5 million salary. Not only are the rumors rampant, but Briere himself seems to think he will be bought out as well. Briere is fresh off one of the worst two-year stretches of his career, a stretch where he shot under 10% in both seasons, well below his career average of 14.4%.
Briere is still pretty decent offensively, capable of putting up 15 goals and 50 points, and can play both center and right wing. However, this year was just an atrocious performance for Briere, who posted a 0.9 OGVT and 0.8 DGVT in the lockout-shortened year. While he has never been a defensive stalwart, the 0.9 OGVT is a significant drop from the 7.5 OGVT of last season. The big decision here is determining whether or not this horrible season –where he shot an abysmal 6.9%– was an off-year or a sign that the 35-year-old has hit a wall.
Usually when we do our stay or go posts, we look at pending UFAs to see if the Rangers should spend the money to keep these players around. Last week Suit wrote a stay or go for Brian Boyle, as Boyle is the subject of a lot of discussion, and I’m going to piggy-back on this. Many know that I’m a Boyle supporter,and with AV –and his significantly less aggressive systems– in, his skating issues won’t be easily exploited as much. His defensive play makes him an almost indispensable part of the fourth line. This of course brings us to Taylor Pyatt.
Signed to be a replacement for Ruslan Fedotenko, Pyatt immediately showed that he has tremendous hockey IQ. He simply knows the game and knows where to be. The problems with Pyatt were his inability to score consistently –eight of his eleven points came in two different stretches of three and five game point streaks– and his foot speed, which was exploited time and time again.
With a new coach on board, the next order of business this offseason will be the NHL Draft, coming up on June 30th. The Rangers don’t have first or second round choices thanks to trades for Rick Nash and Ryane Clowe, but they do have three third round picks. The good news is that the 2013 draft is considered extremely deep, but by the third round there won’t be any sure things. Here’s a look at three guys that could interest the Rangers, but are definitely high-risk, high reward players.
Position: RW Height: 6-3 Weight: 214
Perhaps the feel good story of the draft, Fasching has overcome tremendous obstacles in his personal life to reach where he is today. The Minnesota native has two younger siblings, ages 16 and 14, that both suffer from a mitochondrial disease that keeps them in wheelchairs. Cooper and Mallory Fasching both receive meals through feeding tubes and are cortically blind – their eyes work but their brains can’t process what they see. Doctors believe that neither will live beyond adolescence. Helping to care for his siblings has forced Hudson to mature in a hurry and he will attend the University of Minnesota next year so that he can remain close to home. Read more »
With Alain Vigneault on board, the Rangers are likely going to be changing their styles of play. But with that style change comes understanding what that change will bring. This is something we’ve covered a few times here, but it’s worth digging deeper into the puck possession metrics to see how exactly the Rangers will be differing in styles of play, and how effective AV’s more conservative style is at driving puck possession.
Make no mistake, there are very few coaches as aggressive as John Tortorella. The Rangers sat at the top of the league in GF% (goals for percentage, GF/[GF+GA]), CF%, and SF% this past season, which was likely the most efficient on-ice performance of any Torts-coached Ranger team. They may not have been pretty, they may have been maddeningly inconsistent, but they were efficient in puck possession as a team. Vigneault’s Canucks, however, were not in the top-10 in these categories this past season.
But it is unfair to really rate Vigneault –or Tortorella for that matter– with just one lockout-shortened season of stats. So let’s look at the last three years for these coaches:
When a new head coach arrives at a club it’s not just coaching staffs that tend to follow. Players who have built relationships often do the same, and with Maxim Lapierre approaching free agency, the opportunity to join the Rangers seems a logical one for all concerned.
Lapierre is a hard working hockey player that adds depth to the bottom six and is exactly the type of hockey player that the Rangers need when you look at how they were eliminated by the Bruins. He adds size, grit and a solid work ethic. All these traits would help address multiple needs on the Rangers, and this is without considering the relationship he has developed with Alain Vigneault in Vancouver.
Vigneault will surely want a few of his own in New York and the opportunity to grab a player with a solid playoff background such as Lapierre’s, without giving up anything but free agent dollars, seems an ideal situation. At 28, Lapierre is not an aging veteran and, after a relatively modest regular season and a quick exit in the playoffs, it’s not likely he could command big money on the free agent market – no matter how thin it appears this summer.
Larry Brooks is reporting that the Rangers are expected to officially name Alain Vigneault as the head coach of the Rangers this week, and the announcement will coincide with the dismissals of Mike Sullivan and Jim Schoenfeld as assistant coaches. Benoit Allaire will remain as the goaltenders coach, and Schoenfeld will still be with the team as assistant General Manager. Sullivan will be let go from the organization.
This shouldn’t be much of a surprise, as Vigneault wants his own assistants. Allaire is also one of the best goaltending coaches in the game, so it makes sense to keep him on board.
Every site you go to, every poll you read, most Rangers fans wanted Alain Vigneault over any other coach on the job market. Some wanted Mark Messier. A few wanted Dave Tippett. Maybe three people wanted Guy Boucher or Lindy Ruff. But for the most part, AV has been the guy from fans and media alike.
I understand the appeal. He’s the most winningest coach available (except for Torts, oddly enough). However, based on comments I’ve read on this site and on Twitter, it’s interesting how little people know about Alain Vigneault other than his win-loss record. Since the whole “Alain would have won a Cup, if it weren’t for Luongo” is pretty much the extent of anyone’s analysis, I figured today would be a good time to break down the positives and negatives of having Vigneault as our new head coach.
In case you missed it last night, Henrik Lundqvist did not win the Vezina trophy for the second year in a row. Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets won the award, with Hank finishing in second place. Bob received 110 total points in the vote, while Hank nabbed 55 points.
For the other awards, Derek Stepan and Ryan Callahan finished eighth and ninth respectively for the Selke Trophy, and Callahan finished tenth for the Lady Byng.