By Steve Silverman
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The announcement is coming.
Vigneault certainly has a track record and he appears to be an improvement over John Tortorella. There was never any doubting Tortorella’s commitment or his ability to diagnose an opponent’s strength or weakness. He had the technical tools to become an excellent head coach and get the most out of his team. However, his personality became an issue.
Tortorella was a “my way or the highway” kind of coach. You don’t see very much of that kind of leadership in major pro sports any more, as coaches are much more likely to explain their methods and sell their program to their players.
Making demands is not the best way to get long-term cooperation. Hockey coaches will certainly flex their muscles on occasion, but they have to get their players on board and get them to believe if they want to be successful on a long-term basis.
Vigneault certainly has a different on-ice philosophy than Tortorella. He is not going to make everyone play defense and block shots the way Tortorella did during his tenure in New York. Vigneault has a much more even-handed approach than his predecessor and he is going to be fairly creative from an offensive perspective. He showed that talent during his tenure with the Vancouver Canucks, which included a trip to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.
Vigneault has major-media experience, at least from a hockey perspective. He spent three-plus years in Montreal as the head coach of the most storied franchise in the league and he led the Canucks for seven years in the hockey hotbed of Vancouver. He is used to scrutiny and he will get plenty of it behind the Rangers’ bench.
However, while Vigneault knows all the requirements and will be far more cooperative than Tortorella ever was, he still may have some day-to-day problems with his players and his chroniclers. He can be quite stand-offish when he wants to be. He will make his points to his players and reporters. However, if he feels that his methods are being critically questioned, he tends to get snippy and short. Not just with the media. He has not always explained things the way that he needs to with his players, and he tends to get under their skin. Roberto Luongo, Ryan Kesler and the Sedin brothers are among those whom Vigneault rubbed the wrong way.
He did not do that right away. It took him at least three or four years before his players started to tune him out and it wasn’t until after the seventh year that the Canucks deemed him a problem and gave him his walking papers.
Vigneault will take the shackles off of the Rangers players. That means that the team should make a renewed commitment on the offensive end and star players will no longer be held up to ridicule like Marian Gaborik was prior to getting traded to Columbus and the way that Brad Richards was during the postseason.
If Tortorella had remained with the Rangers, you can bet that Rick Nash would have been the next player to get crushed by Tortorella.
Vigneault is not the perfect coach and if Glen Sather had really wanted to make a bold move, he would have gone with Mark Messier. However, even the greatest Rangers hero of them all did not have the requisite experience and he was bypassed.
Vigneault may not be a breath of fresh air, but he’s not the restrictive leader that Tortorella was and that’s good news for the Rangers.
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