The players haven’t bailed on Alain Vigneault, neither should the fans

NYR looking for answers (Mike Stobe/NHLI)

NYR looking for answers (Mike Stobe/NHLI)

The Rangers imploded again on Sunday against the Capitals. They jumped out to a 3-1 lead and were simply run out of the building by a team that is clicking on all cylinders. Everyone from Alain Vigneault to the hot dog salesman at MSG are struggling to figure out what is wrong with the Rangers.

Many fans are acting like fleeing rats on the Titanic. More of them are all better coaches from their couches than Alain Vigneault. The same coach who in just two seasons has 2 ECF appearances, 1 SCF appearance and 1 Presidents’ Trophy, fans want to see him fired? Please check yourself into a hospital and request a cat scan for brain damage.

Some of these fans asking for AV’s head claim he’s lost the team. Really? We all want AV to scream his bloody head off after each loss and that will accomplish what exactly? Nothing but actually cause him to lose the team and prove that he’s a clueless as the rest of us. He knows what the problem is…it’s his players. They are simply playing like clueless clowns who constantly lose positioning and make the wrong play at the wrong time.

Last night against the Caps, AV did what most coaches do when they are trying to shake the cobwebs out of the heads of their players…he juggled his lines. Yes, he put Tanner Glass on a line with Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello. You know why? Because Glass plays a simple north/south game and Kevin Hayes is all over the ice and needs more stable wingers. Zuccarello plays with the same fire and intensity as Glass only with skill, the move made total sense and they played well together in the first period. That was until, Hayes made a bad decision in his own zone and left his man to give the Caps life.

You want to blame AV for that? Or for the subsequent boneheaded penalties the Rangers took against one of the most lethal power plays in the NHL? C’mon guys…stop being silly. What’s worse in today’s day and age are those that are analytically inclined. Yes, the fancy stats advocates are questioning everything about Alain Vigneault and his decision based on these numbers. Numbers that have value for sure but ultimately are a result of the terrible on ice decisions and execution of his players.

They call into question everything he does, why he plays this guy or doesn’t play that guy. Let me call this like it is…all the fancy stats people have zero clue on how to fix this and really offer nothing valuable to right this ship immediately. Want to know why? Because the problems the Rangers have stem from a lack of confidence and trust in each other. Plain and simple.



If fancy stats advocates had their way, Emerson Etem would be a top six forward. Dan Girardi would be benched and rookie Brady Skjei would be in the lineup, even though he looked lost and overwhelmed at times. The Rangers have actually been worse without Girardi since his absence but none will admit it because fancy stats say he’s terrible.

They would also scratch Tanner Glass because, well there is no good reason except he’s Tanner Glass and they don’t like him. Forget about that he’s physical and actually made things happen on the ice. Disregard the fact that he’s actually a respectable 49%CF since his recall, a stat I don’t nearly value as much as they do but hey…what do I know. FYI: Emerson Etem is at 47% CF.

Here’s the bottom line, this is on the players. This is on Rick Nash to play like the highest paid forward on the team. This is on Ryan McDonagh to lead his team out of this mess. He’s passionate and a proven leader that his teammates listen to. Last season Keith Yandle said exactly that about his new captain.

Mark Messier, without a doubt the greatest Captain in hockey and arguably one of the best leaders in all of sports once said:

“As a captain, I think it’s important that the players really know who you are and what you stand for, what your beliefs are, and to be consistent in those if things are going good or things are going bad.” 

McDonagh will need to heed this advice and get his entire team to pull the proverbial rope together. You can see that even he looks a little lost lately but not a single player has bailed on their coach. You know when a team stops listening to their coach? When Mark Messier stares Roger Nielsen in the face with a look of disgust or Sidney Crosby blows off his two last coaches. That’s when you know a coach has lost his team and that hasn’t happened here.

As for Alain Vigneault, he just needs to keep this group moving forward. For this Rangers team, it really isn’t about a good regular season anymore, it’s about winning the Stanley Cup in June. Nothing more, nothing less.

I wouldn’t want any other coach behind the bench right now either.

Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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