The New York Rangers players understood why the coaching staff was fired following the end of the season.
The New York Rangers team went through their exit interviews on Tuesday. Of course, the question of Alain Vigneault and his coaching staff was a hot topic discussed by players and the media.
“It’s disappointing, obviously. But you understand we didn’t get the job done, and when that happens, change is gonna happen. We have players leaving, now coaches leave.” Henrik Lundqvist told Justin Tasch of the New York Daily News. Lundqvist went on to say, “We hoped and expected more at the start of the season, then things happened throughout the way.”
The Rangers never seemed to find their way this season. Had it not been for Henrik Lundqvist’s play, which helped out a miserable defensive effort by the whole team, the Rangers would have been eliminated from playoff contention a lot earlier than they were.
Their play from Feb. 8 when the organization announced that changes were coming until the trade deadline on Feb. 26 did the team and the coaches no justice. They were no longer a team at that point, just players aimlessly playing games. This was a direct result of Alain Vigneault losing his grasp on the team.
Center Mika Zibanejad added, per Justin Tasch, to the coach’s dismissal saying, “you don’t want to see guys leave, but things happen. It’s unfortunate that that’s I guess a testament that we didn’t do as good as we wanted to this year. Those things happen.”
Forward Chris Kreider was one of the Rangers whose injury was a major reason the Rangers season went spiraling down and out of a playoff spot. Kreider suffered a blood clot and needed surgery to resolve the issue. He missed more than two months of hockey while he recuperated from the procedure. Kreider was a player who took the opportunity to thank the former coaches. “I’ve only got good things to say about our coaching staff. I had them for such a long time. I owe them a ton, personally.”
The Rangers had a lot of things go wrong this season. Usually, an organization will remove the coach since that is easier than changing the team personnel. The Rangers did both, but it still leaves some questions about Vigneault unanswered.
An intriguing question I would ask? If the coaching staff was aware of Kevin Shattenkirk’s knee injury as well as the recent news that Hank had a lingering knee injury, then why did Vigneault call out both players’ performances during the season? Why play Lundqvist in so many games this season, if he was battling a knee injury?
Understandably this and other questions will not be answered, but it does give an example of how the players might have lost the trust and confidence of the coaching staff. A staff that never took the responsibility of the team’s failure, but instead deflected the problems to other areas of the Rangers team.
Mats Zuccarello, a possible captain candidate should he not be traded, might have summed up the coaching change best. “It’s sad for sure. But it’s like the players, you trade players, it’s a business,” Zuccarello said, per Tasch. “There is nothing you can do about it. It’s part of it. I’ve been here with them for five years. It’s really sad to see stuff like that happen.”
Hockey is a business first and foremost. When businesses fail, changes occur to make that business better in the long run. This is where the business of New York Rangers hockey is today.
More changes will be coming the team’s way in the future. Finding a new coach will be the next piece to fix the team and get the team’s business of making the playoffs the number one thing on the list.