There's been a lot of criticism thrown Alain Vigneault's way from Rangers fans (myself included) during the first three and a half months of the season. His quiet, stoic demeanor can be misconstrued as passionless, while his hands-off approach can be mistaken for laziness.
And when the Rangers players didn't initially embrace his fast paced system, we all questioned whether he was the right man for the job. We wondered if he had the personnel to run his up tempo game plan. If he had the passion to inspire his team. And whether the players were quietly second guessing their decision to send John Tortorella packing.
While I still can't say for sure that Vigneault will lead this team to the Stanley Cup or even the playoffs, what I can tell you is that the players are very happy with their head coach.
How do I know this? Because Dan Carcillo offered this little nugget about the head man of his new team who penciled him into the starting line-up in his very first game as a Ranger so that he could be acknowledge by the Chicago crowd for his contributions to the Blackhawks Stanley Cup victory last season (via Bergen Record)…
“Everyone here really likes (Vigneault) and I’ve talked to guys in Vancouver and they really liked him as well. He’s a players’ coach. It’s little things like that, that makes you want to play harder. I thought it was a nice gesture.”
…as a guy who always liked playing for a disciplinarian, I'm of the mind that a successful coach needs to get in his team's face to motivate and inspire them play to their potential. Which is why I've rode Vigneault pretty hard this season for the team's lack of emotion. But this comment by Carcillo has definitely given me some pause. Being nice makes players want to play harder? Who knew?
…maybe the Ranger players' lack of passion hasn't led to their uneven start to the season. Maybe it was the calm, even keeled approach they adopted from their coach that has allowed them not to panic in the face of early season adversity and keep their heads above water until they finally became comfortable with a system that was the complete polar opposite of what they've been running the past five years. Mind blow..
FYI, while the Rangers are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games, the Tortorella led Canucks have lost five straight (0-3-2).