Now that the depressing negatives are out of the way, we focus on the optimistic positives for why Alain Vigneault should be retained during this New York Rangers rebuild.
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 sticking with Alain Vigneault going into next season:
If Vigneault’s career ends prior to next season, and he would not likely be unemployed long, he will be a Hall of Famer. He is 11th all-time in regular-season wins, and likely 10th by seasons end, only one win behind Ron Wilson. Vigneault is 16th in games coached all-time with a more than respectable .589 points percentage. Finally, that success has not been a regular season aberration, he is 13th in playoff wins and 11th in playoff games coached.
Vigneault’s success has largely been while employed at Madison Square Garden. His Rangers record was 192-108-28 going into this season and he made the playoffs his first four years as Rangers coach. The success hasn’t stopped upon the start of the postseason either, in three of those first four years the team won a playoff series. They won a total of six series over the quadrennial.
With all that success, Vigneault has only one achievement left to accomplish, the elusive Stanley Cup. For a franchise approaching a quarter century since their last championship, the Rangers and their current coach have a common goal.
With a new roster, playing meaningless games for the first time in his coaching tenure in New York, Vigneault has the team playing good hockey, going 6-5-3 against a good slate of teams and exciting Rangers fans for the future. It may be worth it to let Vigneault keep working with the players with whom he has seen early returns.
Much has been made of the new talent to join the Rangers, but the recent success has been in large part due to the newly-minted team leaders stepping up. Guys like Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello, Jesper Fast, Mika Zibanejad, Brady Skjei, Jimmy Vesey and Pavel Buchnevich have stepped up their game, taking advantage of more minutes and playing on higher lines.
These veterans have a rapport with Vigneault and could benefit from coaching continuity amidst all the changes happening around the roster.