Did Jimmy Vesey just throw shade on former Rangers coach?

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps it was inadvertent. But Jimmy Vesey appeared to throw shade on former New York Rangers coach Gerard Gallant after practice Thursday.

Asked the difference being up 2-0 in their best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series against the Washington Capitals this postseason compared to winning the first two games in 2023 against the New Jersey Devils, the Rangers forward provided a very honest answer. And perhaps a dig at the former coach.

“I think there’s a different feel in the locker room,” Vesey said. “We know what we want to do, how we have to play and a year older and I’d say a little more organized this year.”

A little more organized. While that seems to be a big part of current coach Peter Laviolette’s success, it was never seen as one of Gallant’s strengths.

In fact, this feels like an unspoken topic this season. The Rangers lost to the Devils in seven games in the first round last spring, in part, because their structure was chaotic. Or simply, not very organized. The opposite is true this season for the Rangers, who have a much more disciplined scheme they play.

Related: Why Sean Avery is fired up about Rangers in 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Jimmy Vesey believes Rangers ‘more organized’ this season under coach Peter Laviolette

new york rangers gerard gallant
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

When asked to elaborate on what he meant by “more organized,” Vesey didn’t hesitate answering.

“I just think we defend harder, probably a little more harder to play against in different areas,” Vesey explained. “D zone structure, neutral zone structure just makes a difference this time of year. Protecting leads, limiting other teams’ transition and rush game.”

What Vesey said is not breaking news. Watch the Rangers this season and you see a team committed to playing a 200-foot game, one that owns the neutral zone with the best of them, and can always fall back on its structure when things get tight — or for that matter, too loose.

That was not the case nearly enough when Gallant coached the Rangers.

Of course, the Rangers still had a lot of success under Gallant. They had 110 points in 2021-22 and 107 last season. They reached the Eastern Conference Final in 2022, when they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games.

But it just looks and feels like Laviolette has taken a good thing and made it better, the next step in this team’s evolution. Organized. Structured.

And that’s what Vesey directly pointed out Thursday before the Rangers set out to Washington for Games 3 and 4 this weekend. Of course, they still have something to prove after failing to close out the Devils a year ago.

“Yeah, we’re up two nothing but it’s still the NHL. It’s gonna’ be a tough series and it’s always hardest to close a team out,” he said.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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