To quote Abraham Lincoln, “don’t swap horses midstream”. That is exactly what the New York Rangers should do; keep their current horse, Alain Vigneault. In the few days after the Rangers were eliminated by Pittsburgh, many people resorted to the classic “AV has to go” or “something has to change,” all inferring that Vigneault had overstayed his welcome in New York. However, these thoughts were driven purely by anger, disbelief and denial. Raw emotion should not be involved when making big decisions that carry so much weight. After about a week people were able to take a step back and realize that firing AV wasn’t the answer.
Alain Vigneault has led the Rangers to an overall record of 144-80-22, a Presidents’ Trophy, a Stanley Cup Final and an Eastern Conference Final that went seven games. Not too shabby for his first three years on the job. Yes, this years playoffs was a disgraceful attempt to beat a Penguins team that was one of the best in the NHL since Christmas, but was it really a surprise? Henrik Lundqvist was good at times during the year, providing the Rangers an almost nightly chance to win most games despite a dismal defense in front of him, and once again an offense that was unable to score that timely goal. Alain was brought in to replace the harsh, in your face John Tortorella, but ultimately he was brought in to win hockey games; to win the Stanley Cup. His calm demeanor has had a positive effect on the organization and has allowed players to take on more responsibility on the ice. AV’s coaching style, one of speed, transition, and man-to-man coverage in the defensive zone, has suited the Rangers well thus far. Glen Sather, Jeff Gorton, and the entire organization has worked for the past three years in building a team around AV, his style, and what he feels he needs to win the Cup.
Bruce Boudreau has been fired from the Anaheim Ducks after they suffered a quick first round defeat at the hands of the Nashville Predators. A year ago, Anaheim was one game away from reaching the Stanley Cup, defeated in an epic game seven by the dynasty Chicago Blackhawks. Boudreau has won four consecutive division titles with the Ducks, posting an overall record of 208-104-40. Boudreau was able to post very similar, impressive regular season records during his time with the Capitals, but again was unable to advance deep into the playoffs. His playoff game seven record is now a dismal 1-7 and although the record doesn’t reflect the coach directly, it does cast light on his ability to get his team mentally ready for a big game or to hype up his guys. Boudreau has always been a very offensive minded coach, especially with Washington, but has been slowly adapting more defensive techniques later in his career. Ryan Kesler stated that Boudreau is ” a good man and a good coach, obviously. It’s tough to see your coach fired, and I think the onus goes on us.”
Boudreau has eerie similarities with Alain Vigneault. They are both offense first coaches who rely on players to be responsible defensively on the ice. They both have proven they can lead teams to an extremely successful regular season, but have failed to take a team all the way. Replacing AV with such a similar coach, without guaranteeing the same success the Rangers have had, would be a dire mistake. Then again, there is almost a zero percent chance of this happening, but it’s still entertaining to look into. There has been some buzz that Boudreau may be a good fit for the Minnesota Wild, who also struggle in the playoffs. His offensive prowess may bring success to a Wild team that has been defensive minded for the last several years. Only time will tell where Bruce ends up, but wherever he goes, his new team is likely in line for an extremely successful regular season and a first round defeat in the playoffs.
On a side note, who wouldn’t want a coach who gave the second best locker room speech of all time, behind the legendary Herb Brooks speech to the 1980 Men’s Olympic ice hockey team. Thanks HBO for this beauty, F-bomb count somewhere around 15, classic:
Because I mentioned it, felt like I had to also post it. USA! USA! USA!