We’ve presented final grades for the New York Rangers’ offense, defense, and goaltenders, but now it’s time to discuss the coaches.Today I will present another round of grades for the New York Rangers organization, the coaches.
I’ve always believed that coaches are by far the hardest people of any organization to judge, especially when they have the small sample size that Scott Arniel, Ulf Samuelsson, Benoit Allaire, and Alain Vigneault have.
Coaches obviously have a lot of responsibility on their plates, as their systems on the ice, personnel decisions, preparation, and strategies all greatly affect the outcome of a given season.
No, coaches are not the people who have the responsibility of executing on the ice, but their fundamental approach makes a huge difference.
If you don’t believe that a coach can have a significant impact on a team, just look at that team over in Pittsburgh.
The Penguins looked horrible with former head coach Mike Johnston at the helm.
There was player drama and the team just wasn’t performing. The systems and strategies that Johnston had in place simply didn’t work well for the players on the roster.
As soon at former New York Rangers assistant coach Mike Sullivan took over in December, everything changed. Statistically, Pittsburgh was the best team in the NHL from Christmas through to the end of the season.
They are now two wins away from another Stanley Cup Final appearance.
The Rangers’ current coaching staff had a pretty impressive first two seasons with the organization. While the Stanley Cup Final and an Eastern Conference Final appearances came up short, they raised expectations to an arguably unrealistic level.
So with unrealistic expectations and a very suspect roster, how much of the responsibility should Alain Vigneault and company bear?
It’s time to find out.