Could Alain Vigneault's loyalty cost the New York Rangers the cup?
Apr 13, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault reacts on the bench against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period in game one of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Penguins won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers are in the market for a defenseman but Alain Vigneault’s loyalty will provide a challenge for Jeff Gorton.

The New York Rangers are rumored to be talking to the St. Louis Blues about Kevin Shattenkirk.

Feeling deja vu?

Much to my delight, this rumor hasn’t resurfaced yet in 2017. Oh, Don’t worry, it will. It’ll be all over Twitter and other sites looking for clicks with far too brilliant headlines.

The NHL trade deadline is one month away. Naturally, rumors have already started swirling around the NHL. Jeff Gorton, with the reins fully in his hands, has some difficult decisions ahead. New York is never quiet on such a crucial day in the NHL season. I don’t anticipate radio silence this year either.

The question Rangers fans have to ask themselves before March 1 is, “Can this team contend for the cup with one more vital piece?”


If the answer is no, you should probably stop reading. If the answer is yes, then by all means, read on.

The Rangers are primarily looking to add a defenseman to the mix this season. Guys rumored to be on the block that interest the Blueshirts include Kevin Shattenkirk, Cam Fowler, Dennis Wideman, Cody Franson and Michael Stone.

This article won’t showcase a detailed explanation on every defenseman on the market. Nor will be a detailed explanation of players the Rangers are interested in acquiring or dealing. That article will come later on this month.

This article has much more to do with AV and his blind loyalty to certain players.

We currently have seven healthy defenseman on the roster — Ryan McDonagh, Brady Skjei, Marc Staal, Daniel Girardi, Nick Holden, Kevin Klein and Adam Clendening. When healthy, AV rolls out the same six every game. Clendening, deservingly so, often sits up in the press box.

Which player is expendable?

Which player in the top six defensemen would AV bench for an acquired D-man at the deadline?

You got it! None.

Which player would you and me bench?

That’s right! Girardi!

Mac, Skjei, Holden and Klein are locks night in and out. Staal and Girardi are anchors in the lineup and would be extremely difficult to trade. This leaves Clendening, who only plays when there is an injury.

To be direct, AV needs to bury his loyalty and bench players who suck. Until then, we can stop talking about acquiring a defenseman. Girardi will continue to play and make mistakes. AV will refuse to address the 800 lbs. gorilla in the room. The Rangers will continue to struggle defensively.

The solution is to acquire a steady defenseman who can replace Girardi, not share time with him. Unlikely with AV.

Gorton’s only choice would be to move either Klein, Clendening or Holden in a deal for another defenseman. This is the only option. AV will need someone ripped out of his roster in order for them to not make the starting lineup. Seems Alain would sooner be fired than remove G from the lineup. He may even take a bullet for the guy.

The rest of February should prove to be a very exciting month. Don’t be surprised if the Rangers decide to remain calm and avoid the deadline. Also, don’t be surprised if Gorton goes out and acquires another seventh D-man who can spot start.

Don’t expect AV to suddenly become disloyal to his “core” defenseman.

Ecpect AV to protect Girardi like a younger sister who’s starting to date.

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