New York Rangers vets embracing coaching change to Peter Laviolette

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It’s certainly very early in New York Rangers training camp, but to a man, every veteran player is raving about new head coach Peter Laviolette.

“I think the attitude he brings, the energy, enthusiasm, is great,” captain Jacob Trouba stated. “The sense of direction I think is good for us. Already in the first practice, we’re going over offensive zone ideas. We went through systems up and down the ice with video. [The players] have to implement it, but he’s given us the tools to be successful this year.”

That’s been the general consensus after many players were reportedly not pleased with Gerard Gallant in the aftermath of a first round exit against the New Jersey Devils. Whether it was due to a not having a system to counter the Devils’ speed or making in-game adjustments, the vets are loving what Laviolette and his staff are bringing.

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New York Rangers vets embracing Laviolette

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Carolina Hurricanes
October 6, 2013; Raleigh, NC, USA; Philadelphia Flyers coach Peter Laviolette looks on against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Center. The Hurricanes defeated the Flyers 2-1. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers hired the 58 year-old bench boss this summer after mutually agreeing to part ways with Gallant. Since he was first introduced, Laviolette has come across as confident and eager to take this team to the next level.

“A whole new coaching staff and the approach that they’re taking is different,” explained Vincent Trocheck. “[Laviolette] is paying attention to detail and he’s focused on making this group as good as we can possibly be. That’s huge for a team that believes we can contend for a Stanley Cup.”

Of course, having a great attitude is one thing, but what schemas he will implement with this personnel is the real key to unlocking their full potential.

“I’m interested in seeing how [Laviolette’s] neutral zone system works,” noted Mika Zibanejad. “We had problems with that (when he was in Washington). Might be nice to be on the other end of that and frustrate other teams with it.”

There’s no doubt that Laviolette is going to continue to play an uptempo and quick transition game, with an emphasis on dealing with the neutral zone. However, there’s other areas he’ll put some focus on, such as faceoffs where the Rangers have been historically bad.

That’s why he added Michael Peca on the staff, who was seen working on draws at practice, to improve in that department.

“I wanted a (coaching) staff that was diverse,” Laviolette said. “I feel like we’ve hired one of the top centermen (Peca) out there in his day. A defensive-minded guy that played the game with a bit of a snarl and was very good at faceoffs. Like with everything else there’ll be instruction.”

Also on Laviolette’s staff is associate coach Phil Housley, one of the NHL’s best defenseman with 1,232 career points. Plus an up-and-coming young coach in Dan Muse. Regardless, it’s going to fall on the players to get the job done.

“It doesn’t matter what system we play,” starting goalie Igor Shesterkin bluntly stated. “Everybody has to work hard, do what the coach wants, and be better every day.”

The first step in that journey will be on Sunday, when the Rangers head to Boston to take on the Bruins at 5 PM ET.

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at YardBarker and MSN. Some of his past features have been linked on Sportsnet, NBC, TFP, NY POST, NEWSDAY and more.