As it pertains to the New York Rangers rebuild, head coach Alain Vigneault will be a tremendous topic of conversation. The following is the case against the man returning.
The next major decision for a busy-of-late New York Rangers’ front office is who will be at the helm of a retooled roster next year. While the roster will not be completely filled with turnover, it is no secret that the team is revamped with the departure of some franchise stalwarts and injection of young talent to replace the exiting veterans.
As the Rangers seek to turn over this new leaf, the question remains as to who will be behind the bench to usher in a new age of Blueshirts hockey. As is often the case, the incumbent coach is the first candidate many are considering to take on the role.
Here are some of the arguments for moving on from Alain Vigneault going into next season:
The Rangers have precedent for firing coaches with successful track records, especially in comparison to the majority of the league. The last two coaches were fired less than a full season after a playoff berth and in both cases the successor outdid their predecessor.
Tom Renney missed the playoffs his first year in New York but after three straight playoff appearances and two series wins he was fired in the midst of his fifth season, replaced by John Tortorella.
Tortorella took the team further than Renney ever did in five seasons at the helm, reaching the conference finals. Vigneault replaced Torts after a playoff season and raised the bar again to a Stanley Cup finals appearance. Is a successor needed to meet the final goal?
Vigneault has been often criticized for his approach to young talent. Players like Pavel Buchnevich, J.T. Miller and Jimmy Vesey failed to deliver on high potential under his leadership. That is of the utmost importance with a team that will rely on young talent flourishing.
More than any other criticism, the knocks on Vigneault’s defensive coaching are backed up by stats. With three assistant coaches running defense across the last three seasons, the results have remained subpar. The hybrid man-to-man system has been a flop for defensemen and forwards back-checking alike.
The team has, as previously reported by Larry Brooks of The New York Post, “allowed the third most five-on-five attempts against and the third-most shots against.” Additionally, the team has allowed the most high-danger chances during that stretch. Henrik Lundqvist has covered for a lot of these deficiencies, but is not getting any younger.
The Rangers are unhappy with the path they were on two months ago. Not good enough to win it all and with an aging roster, they chose to change course. Perhaps it is necessary to change the leadership to fully take the team in a different direction.