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.