Rangers rhetoric about accountability confirms Vigneault’s biggest failure

Quinn and Drury (NHL/NYR)

Accountability. That’s the word repeated over and over again by the likes of Kevin Hayes, Kevin Shattenkirk and new head coach, David Quinn himself. It indirectly confirms what we could all tell with our own eyes why Alain Vigneault’s tenure in NY ended in abysmal failure.

Vigneault’s Ultimate Mistake

When you look at the overall body of work for Alain Vigneault, you can’t help but be impressed. He is one of the top winning coaches in NHL history. In his stint as the Rangers bench boss, he took them to 2 Eastern Conference Finals and 1 Stanley Cup Final in his first three seasons, with a Presidents Trophy to boot.

So what went wrong? In all honesty, his hands off management style and over reliance to apply accountability to young players and veterans alike was his downfall. To be fair, it wasn’t all his fault either. GM, Jeff Gorton deserves equal blame here also.

As Gorton started moving veteran players and leaders like Derek Stepan, Derrick Brassard and Dan Girardi he never replaced what they brought to the locker room. Moving more and more towards a younger team did not play to AV’s coaching style and strengths. Plus, at the end of the day, AV was quick to abandon young players in a game to rely on veterans.

The problem is that those veterans were even more prone to errors than their younger counter parts. The greatest example of this was using the pair of Marc Staal and Nick Holden over Brady Skjei and Brendan Smith in round 2 of last year’s playoffs against Ottawa. While Skjei and Smith were impressing everyone but their coach, Staal and Holden were blowing games late several times.

Words and Lack of Words Matter

When AV was let go, very few players were not surprised or had much to say about it. Mats Zuccarello probably had the most positive comments after the firing, thanking AV for believing in him. He did admit that it was time for a change as well.

Henrik Lundqvist didn’t offer much on break up day saying, We didn’t get the job done..When that happens, changes are going to happen. We had players leave, now we have the coaches leave.” Ryan McDonagh commented on it from Tampa stating he wasn’t surprised that AV was fired after what many felt was a successful tenure.

One of the Rangers youngest and more promising forwards, Pavel Buchnevich didn’t mince words with a Russian news outlet. He stated that under AV he was playing with fear, knowing that any mistake would have pinned him to the bench. That fear hurt his confidence and offensive creativity.

The other younger players were for the most part fairly silent on the issue. However, Tony DeAngelo liked a tweet during the playoffs on how Gerard Gallant handles players that make mistakes. By the way the tweet is written, one can assume that it’s about a lack of accountability, but you can also take it as encouraging your players to play without fear of punishment for making a mistake.


A New Level of Accountability

The two most outspoken voices about how David Quinn approaches fairness in his treatment of players are Kevin Shattenkirk and Kevin Hayes. Both of whom have a history with Quinn.

In a recent article for Newsday, Hayes stressed how Quinn will bring in accountability from “Day One”. Hayes also said, “I think a major thing he’ll bring to this team, to this organization, is accountability.” While Hayes said he learned a lot from AV, the change was needed.

Of the Rangers that have been reached for comment, no one has spoken more glowingly of Quinn than Shattenkirk. At Quinn’s presser, Shattenkirk expressed how he was the perfect coach for this team. He explained that Quinn’s hands on approach, tough practices, and accountability would help develop the younger players.

“We have a lot of youth on our team and they need to be coached and developed and he is someone who takes individual players and coaches them on that level and also take the team and make sure we are structured and it’s something that you have to work hard to achieve but winning is something that will result as of our work ethic.” –SNY

In The End…

Ultimately, when you look at everything in context and you fairly judge the situation you can only come to one fair conclusion. David Quinn is the right person to take over THIS edition of the Rangers. Just like Alain Vigneault was the right person to take over the team in 2013-14.

One could argue that maybe firing John Tortorella was the wrong decision, but that isn’t AV’s fault either. Now it’s Quinn’s turn to be under the microscope that is professional sports. He like his predecessor should only be judged on his results and would be blessed to have even half the career coach AV has had so far.

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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