The Case Against Alain Vigneault – Exhibit A

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There’s a saying in sports ‘players play and coaches coach’. While the simplicity of this saying is both strong and smart, it really is not true. When it comes down to it, the players may play, but it really all comes down to the coach. It’s the player’s job to do their job, but it’s the coach’s job to put the player and team in position to do so. When a player like Marc Staal gets vilified by the media and the fans, it falls on the player. When Henrik Lundqvist gives up a goal late to tie the game, it somehow falls on the coach.

To sit here and say that all of the blame falls on a particular party, depending on who the player is, is wrong. When it comes down to it, it all should fall on the coach. The fact of the matter is that New York Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault deserves the credit and blame for the team’s successes and failures.

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Catch 22

Hopefully, this season the player wearing number 22 will produce both offensively and defensively. However, when it comes down to it, both Dan Boyle and Nick Holden have left much to be desired from both their position and their number. When it comes down to it, neither player was a strength and they wound up creating more problems than they solved.

To look at the simple numbers, Dan Boyle averaged 20 minutes a game for the Blueshirts. Think about it; a nearly 40 year old defenseman played 20 minutes a game! Regardless of his skill level at the time, this will create a mismatch.

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Now on to Nick Holden. While we could all sit here and rip Holden until the end of time, Alain Vigneault had Nick Holden on the ice for 20 minutes a night during the playoffs. And while I understand the idea of spreading out ice time, there is no explanation for Nick Holden and Marc Staal to be on the ice with a minute left. If you go back and look at the late collapses during the post season, number 18 or 22 was on the ice for three of the four blown games. Scream all you want about Marc Staal being inept and that Nick Holden had a weak partner, but when it comes down to it, it’s on the coach to put his team in the best position to win. Does AV do that? Not all the time.

Blinded by Stats

Alain Vigneault has slowly seen a decline each year on Broadway. This will be a statement that I truly believe to my core, and there’s no debating it. 2014 SCF appearance, 2015 ECF appearance, 2016 1st round exit, 2017 2nd round exit. By no means am I saying that the team should have given the ax to AV. However, my point is that there has been a slow decline and consistent disappointments.

Last season, we could argue, exceeded expectations due to the retool in the offseason. The point of this whole article is that it is time for Alain Vigneault to realize his team’s strengths and weaknesses. And with Nick Holden and Marc Staal as the team’s third pairing, Vigneault has the defensive depth he’s been needing.

Moral of the story here is that Alain Vigneault is a successful NHL coach. It is time for him to sit down and get the most out of all his players. The Rangers don’t have any real superstars in their lineup but are a team of good players that can be very dangerous as a unit. However, we all saw what can happen when players are used incorrectly.

When it comes down to it, it’s on the coach. The success of the team, Hank’s closing window and the restless fans of the New York Rangers are all putting their eggs in the AV basket. Only time will tell if it will all pan out.

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