When Alain Vigneault came to the Rangers he made the surprising admission that he wasn't going to watch game tape on his new players. He wanted to give everyone a clean slate and felt looking back would stop the Rangers from moving forward.
Because of this decision, Vigneault found himself behind the eight ball when training camp began, forcing him to dedicate virtually all of preseason to evaluation instead of properly educating the players on his systems. This ultimately left the team woefully unprepared to start the season and was the likely reason for the abysmal opening west coast road trip.
Now 33 games into the season and his team grossly underachieving, Vigneault says he had no misconceptions coming into the team about the kind of personnel he was inheriting (via Daily News)…
“Not really. I mean I knew even though I didn’t know the East real well, I knew our skill set. I knew that this team was based around real strong goaltending night in and night out. As far as the overall picture of the team, I knew what I was getting into, the areas we had to work on, and I didn’t think it was gonna come overnight and it’s not. As much as we’re struggling in certain areas, and I think that’s clear for everybody, we’re still right in the picture. The effort I’m seeing right now on and off the ice, we’re working our way to find the wins we need to get back on track.”
…listen, we all agree that the mismatch between personnel and coach falls 100% on Sather, but AV deserves his fair share of criticism for not doing his homework on the Rangers players either before he accepted the position or the start of training camp.
…admissions that he doesn't know the team's leadership or that he's been TOLD Del Zotto offers more than he's showing only highlight the fact that, despite what he's saying, Vigneault had a real lack of understanding of the team. Shouldn't he have met with the core before the season to get a better feel of personalities? Wouldn't it have been smart to educate himself on the positives and negatives of each players by watching game film? That's not gaining preconceived notions of a player, that's called properly evaluating your talent. Training camp and a few preseason games isn't enough to give a new coach a proper understanding of his individual player's strength and weaknesses.
…maybe, just maybe, if Vigneault had the proper knowledge of his roster he could have made adjustments to his systems before the season, so it would have fit the Rangers personnel. Instead, it was installed as if he was still coaching a talent laden Canucks lineup skilled enough to implement his schemes. And because of that, the Rangers have looked confused and completely lost on both ends of the ice for almost the entire season.
…and now, it's only getting worse as AV again plays catchup while he attempts to develop a new defense-oriented game plan that his players will feel comfortable in. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”