By Steve Silverman
There should be no dancing or partying as the New York Rangers continue with their preseason.
A win over the Philadelphia Flyers with Alain Vigneault is nice, but there’s nothing to crow about. Nobody would celebrate a summer win over the Flyers — even if they remain a most hated rival — but there is an unmistakable feeling of euphoria around the team because John Tortorella is no longer present.
The Rangers got rid of their coach shortly after they were bounced out of the playoffs by the Boston Bruins, a defeat that Tortorella sensed was inevitable.
Vigneault was brought in to not only lighten the atmosphere, but to make this team better — particularly on the offensive end.
From this corner it seems like Vigneault has a lot of work to do. For one thing, he has to get the team down to the business of preparing for the hockey season. The Rangers will never admit it, but they are so happy to be rid of their former coach that every day seems like Christmas.
So how much work gets done around your office on Christmas Day?
That’s a problem. If you want to get better, you have to throw yourself into it body and soul. Vigneault has the Rangers’ bodies, but he must grab their souls and do it now.
Tortorella’s devotion to responsible play kept this team from becoming everything that it could be. The Rangers did not lack for talent, but they did lack for goals. That’s what Vigneault has to bring.
There are many questions about the new Rangers coach, because he also wore out his welcome with his previous employer. Vigneault did not brow beat the Vancouver Canucks and leave his players with the feeling that they were worthless.
Instead, his players got tired of his message and tuned him out. That’s the normal course for pro sports. Whether Vigneault should have taken a year off or not before returning to the wars is debatable, but his opportunity came knocking before he had a time for a long reflection. So here he is, jetting from one coast to the other to coach hockey.
Specifically, the Rangers have to develop a much better offensive flow. Remember all those one- and two-goal games under Tortorella? They have to become three- and four-goal games under Vigneault with the occasional game where they light up an opponent.
That requires passing, cohesiveness, freedom and the confidence to take chances.
That kind of chutzpah was beaten down by Tortorella and must be unearthed by Vigneault.
Glen Sather and the Rangers management have asked Vigneault to affect this change overnight. That’s a lot to ask.
But one thing Vigneault should be able to do is institute a power play that is far more productive than the one that ranked 23rd in the league last year. Even Vigneault’s critics would admit that he is creative and has the kind of game plan that should produce far more man-advantage chances than the one that floundered under Tortorella.
So, Vigneault was hired to do two things. Change the culture and fix the offense.
And he has to do both right away. With one championship in the last 73 years, Rangers fans are not a very patient lot.
Nor should they be.
Please follow Steve on Twitter at @profootballboy
You May Also Be Interested In These Stories