During the Rangers head coach hiring process this summer, one thing I consistently heard about Alain Vigneault was how he gave his players the freedom to police themselves in the locker room. If there was an issue, it was up to team leadership to nip it in the bud. In other words, there was going to be none of this...
Damn I loved Torts. But I digress. So if the Rangers lose their edge and aren't playing up to their capabilities it will be incumbent upon Ryan Callahan, Brad Richards and Marc Staal to make sure it doesn't happen again.
The problem with this hands off strategy is that the coach could find himself detached from the team, which we might already be seeing when AV admits after the Sharks debacle Tuesday night that he doesn't know his players yet...
“I think you have to trust your leadership group, and though I don’t know them very well, I have to believe we have strong leaders."
Larry Brooks at the New York Post also addresses this issue...
"The Rangers fired John Tortorella because the players and organization believed his style on the ice had become too restrictive and his style off the ice too domineering.
Well, after a lousy training camp, a lousy opening game in Phoenix and this monstrosity in San Jose, the burden of proof is on the Rangers to prove they can respond to Vigneault’s alternate approach.
It is up to them to prove they can handle the responsibilities that accompany freedom."
Brooks adds that while Vigneault can and will address issues with a stern hand behind closed doors, he will also take an unemotional, tactical approach to correcting problems.
...i mentioned it in passing a few times during the off-season, but I felt it was strange that we were hearing from players in August that, despite being hired in June, AV still hadn't reached out to them. And to now, four months, six preseason games and three regular season games later, hear AV admit that he doesn't know his leadership very well and that "I have to believe" they're strong leaders has me a bit concerned. Shouldn't there have been more than a few dinners and get togethers between AV and the team leadership before, during and after training camp so that they were able to generate a trust and understanding between the two sides? Maybe that's just me.
...there's always going to be different philosophies in coaching and there is a stark difference between Torts and AV. The players obviously grew tired of Torts' antics, but I have to wonder how the "unemotional" approach of AV is going to play on a team void of any emotion right now.
...based on my personal experiences in organized sports, I've always preferred playing for a disciplinarian like Torts as I felt they always pushed you to be a better player and never allowed you to perform below your capabilities. A quick example. When I played lacrosse in high school, we had some pretty damn good teams, however, our coach was a push over, who was never engaged with the players or captains and our play on the field suffered as we would barely qualify for the playoffs before eventually getting bounced in the first round without much of a fight. Conversely, in college I played on a team with average to below average skill level compared to most Division I teams, but my Tortsesque coach got the most out of us by getting in our face and demanding it. And by my senior year we were a Top 10 team in the county and earned the program's first ever NCAA tournament bid. Did I mostly want to punch my college coach in the face? Sure, but I knew he'd run through a brick wall for us and I wanted to prove that I would do the same for him.
...as I said yesterday, I was happy to hear there was a meeting to address the current state of the team, but my worry is that AV took a back seat in that meeting and allowed the leadership to run the show. At some point the King has to come out of the castle and rule his people.
The tough thing to realize, for us fans, who are trying to look at the big picture and the history, and know what this team went through 1 or 5 or 15 or 50 years ago, is that that isn't how these players approach it. For them its a job. They have to go to work every day and they have to like it if they're going to be expected to give 110%. Its easy to forget that some of these guys haven't even reach the apex of their careers. While guys like Richards and Hank feel like they've been around forever, guys like McD, Stepan, Callahan, even Staal and Nash, are all in the first half of their careers (hopefully), and as Torts always told us, its a process. Some of these guys only knew Torts as an NHL coach. They only knew being yelled at. Yeah, that video fires you up when you watch it because its one time. But look at some of the body language in that room: heads under towels, heads in their hands, staring at the ceiling. Part of that is the disappointment of the period that just unfolded, and part of that is bracing for the tongue lashing you know is coming. I'm not saying one way is right or wrong, because its not, different guys respond differently, and as much as AV may still be learning the team and learning the guys, those guys are still learning their coach, and theyre still learning about themselves. Maybe 2 years after AV is here they'll realize they liked Torts style better, but its up to them to respond for the time being.
We all want wins, we all want a cup, and we all want it now, because we've been waiting almost 20 years for another, but for these guys in the 3rd or 4th season as a Pro, but some of these players are still going through the baby steps of becoming a pro.
I think everyone should stop talking until December. They haven't produced because they've barely played any games. Let the guys hash it out. It's not the end of the world.......YET
I will laugh my ass off if Torts wins The Cup in Vancouver. The problem wasn't Torts...the problem is, always has been, and probably always will be Sather.
Personally, I think the best coaches are the ones who adapt to what the team/players need at the moment. The ones that can be supportive and nurturing in some instances, and can be total in your face, tough-love, hard-assed in others. Those I find, from my experience, are the coaches who bring the best out of their players, cause they tune into what their players/teams need in the moment and the players want to give their best for them. Torts didn't do this. Neither did Renney. Neither did Keenan (who also played favorites) All of those guys were slow or incapable of adapting.
Remember, these are not kids they're coaching. These coaches are working with mostly full grown adults, some who may know the game just as well as them. Torts treated his players like children. He would berate them, bench them, make fun of them to the press, and then the next day apologize, thinking it would make it all better. I think that's what ultimately led to his demise.
Scotty Bowman is probably the best I've seen as far as a coach who was able to adapt, and I think why he was so successful. Bowman for the most part put the responsibility on the players, but sometimes, when they needed a kick in the ass, he was the one to give it to them. He was always great at reading the room.
I knew he'd run through a brick wall for us and I wanted to prove that I would do the same for him...
Great point Kevin! I played for a Torts like coach as well and I never bitched and moan about him being too tough. Because at the end of the day, all it took, was that one time he leaned over and said, good job, that made all the other shit worth it.
Oh gosh.... Torts is SO mean!!! How terrible! How can he demand the players actually play hard? What an ass hole...
@TheNYRBlog we have average players
What I don't understand is how AVs former team was a gritty Western Conference team that was near the top of the division for the last few years under him and he comes in and has such a soft start with a team that has grit already ingrained in them from Torts. I understand each coach wants to mold the players in their own way, but i hope that this gets corrected soon and we get over these growing pains. I feel like we know there will be these pains, but after 2 poor showings, its only a matter of time before people start saying this just isnt going to work...
Kevin.....please understand that Torts signed an extension on his original contract in March of 2013 before The Rangers were officially in the playoffs. Sather wanted him and no one was tired of Torts. Something happened (I don't know what) between the end of the playoffs and early June and the relationship was terminated. If Torts did all the negative things the NY press accused him of why would a team like The Canucks sign him in record time????
Did you know they used to take Brooks, lunch money when he was in JHS??
I definitely don't trust Richards to be policing anything. Horrible hockey player and most likely a horrible leader. As for Callahan he may be a great leader on the ice, but I don't expect anything from him in the locker room... His whole career he has been labeled as soft spoken. And the former has come into question as well after Tuesday night when he didn't back up the guy making 7.8 million a year
I 100% agree. Something that I remember being key with torts taking over for renney was that he was able to strip away a lot of that New York State of mind (nice way of saying overconfidence) from the players. Like that hilarious quote about changing the team travel methods to NJ and LI games, something like, “It’s not going to be 10 freakin’ limos flying in from all over the place and coming in for the morning skate."While this is a much different team than a few years earlier, and obviously this isn't a direct correlation necessarily to their level of work on the ice, you still have to wonder if there needs to be that strict driving force leading this team in order to help prevent them from becoming a group of "cosmopolitan" athletes.
@TheNYRBlog As much policing as there was last week when the bikers terrorized that family.
It's not just you feeling it Kevin. I mentioned in one of your previous posts, that I was very concerned about that. He talks as if it's some other team or if he was just brought in yesterday. You are spot on saying he should have had plenty of opportunity to get to know his leaders on the team. I think Lundqvist should be involved as well, since by most accounts he was one of the players pushing the coaching change.
@TheNYRBlog nice read. Never responded to yellers in sport or in life. My fave coach's stare could burn holes. He always had my attention.
It's not just you and I couldn't agree with you more on this. I kept trying to tell myself it was normal for a new coach not to meet with his team over the summer but I knew inside that wasn't right. I asked Jim Cerny yesterday about the evaluation process during camp hurting the team and he said it was a catch-22 - that AV needed to learn team but it did put them behind. If they are behind plus AV still doesn't know the team, we have problems. Either way, something is off and it better be fixed quickly or it's going to be a long year.
Here's my question..were we really that good in LA? I watched the game a second time and frankly, i wasn't impressed. A few bounces the other way and we'd look the same as we did in Phoenix. SOME things were better, but I'm so tired of hearing people say how great we were in LA. This team is lost. It has no identity. And they need to find it...quick.
@NickCeglia I guess I can only speak for myself, but I'm not throwing up the white flag. Having said that there are some big concerns with this team that should worry fans.
@johnpnj Canucks have 15 goals in 4 games, while the Rangers have SIX in three. Yep, Torts was holding back the offense.
@shoot_the_goalie Your assessment of Torts and Keenan are way off the mark......way off! They both won cups and they both have been hired multiple times by different NHL teams. Their records speak loudly and clearly for themselves. Perhaps you may want to ask yourself how did their coaching contribute to the teams they coached....what made them effective and how come ownership continually wanted them to coach their teams. How come The Canucks hired Torts so quickly?
I waited a long time for Keenan to come to NY and have nothing but gratitude and appreciation for his time here. His record speaks for itself
I have followed NHL for a long time and it is a very closed society and very little is known or made public as to what is really going on. There are muzzles on everybody as far as speaking to the public goes. Compare the analysis and assessment of pro football over the American airwaves with most hockey interviews. We all can predict how NHL players and coaches respond to questions before they open their mouths. Ever see/hear a Hockey Coach or Hockey player ever interviewed on any first class sports talk show?
@shoot_the_goalie Very good points.
@mlsranger Comes down to personnel. Much better in Vancouver.
@mlsranger And yet we will still have to pay AV a ton of money because Sather is an imbecile.
@EHBIGAPPLE Simple, Nash gets coaches fired. He burned how many coaches in Columbus? I'm not saying him personally, but his legacy has followed him to the NYR. It is beginning to look like it is more than a coincidence.
@Trade DelZotto+Girardi4E.Kane BTW, If they're giving up MDZ and G, they better get more than just Kane back!
@JustinRP37 No. It doesn't count towards the cap.
Doesn't stop him from getting fired, just guarantees him more money. Dolan has plenty to burn when required...
@Projekt29 Obviously, every1 responds differently. What I don't like are coaches who give 2 much freedom. Eventually players take advantage.
@Projekt29 hey I saw your twit account and see that you are cute. kik me - babygirly90
@RobRasmussen I think the battle level in that game was much better, but you are correct in saying if the bounces didn't go the Rangers way they are easily 0-3.
@mikeferruzzi All athletes slip a little throughout the year, so the coach needs to be aware and take charge when necessary.
@FREE MASHINTER @NickCeglia It's too early to tell how this team is going to play out after 3 games and a split squad pre-season. The only thing I feel is a true concern is that I don't think any team is afraid to play us. We don't stand up for our players and we don't have the personnel who would take on that role either.
I'm waiting for the day that opposing teams try to run Hank even more than they do, for the purpose of injuring him.
@FREE MASHINTER @shoot_the_goalie Great points. AV was sold to us (the fans), and continued to say it leading up to camp that he was a coach recognized different players will need to be handled differently. While I agree with some of the points made on here that he seems to be taking a while to get to know everyone, maybe, from a glass half-full perspective, it's more that he's digging into his players that much more than other coaches.
When does it vecome time for slats and his crews head to roll? Dolan should go poach JD from Colombus and bring him back to NY!
@gravey94I know it doesn't count towards the cap at all, but owners are far less likely to shit can an employee in the first year of a five year contract if holy hell should break out this year as you are still stuck paying for the contract. I just cannot believe Sather with all these screw ups over the year STILL has a job with the Rangers.
@TheNYRBlog agreed, there will be times when necessary, but hopefully not regularly. If so, there is prob a character issue.
@gravey94 He did keep Thomas around far too long, but yes I agree Dolan is an ass who could careless about hockey. Luckily for me I had FiOS, so he doesn't get that money from me. And the problem is also Sather, you can't say that it is not. A better owner would be great, but there are many owners who are not involved in the daily operations of the club, but pick competent GMs. And Sather doesn't even spend much time in NY anymore.
@JustinRP37 @gravey94 Do you follow the Knicks at all? Dolan would fire someone at the drop of a hat. Problem is, to paraphrase Craig Carton...Dolan don't care about hockey Booma! That's the whole reason Sather still has a job. Dolan knows nothing about it, and doesn't care to know anything about it as long as the seats are filled and the TV revenues come in. He makes his money on Cablevision, the sports franchises are just toys to him. Cablevision bought the Garden in August 1994. Do you think it's a coincidence the Rangers haven't sniffed the finals since then and the Knicks have been there only once? The problem is not the coach, the players or the GM...it's an apathetic owner!
@TheNYRBlog yup, too early to panic, but not to early to be disgusted! Lol.
@mikeferruzzi Ha! Agreed. All I need is effort right now. I knew it would be a struggle in the beginning, but this is unacceptable.
@TheNYRBlog although a win would be nice too!
@TheNYRBlog totally,find out what kind of team we are 2nite. Rise to the occasion or crumble. I don't need to see a win, I need to see guts
@mikeferruzzi Big test for team's leadership.