2017 Rangers Report Card: Alain Vigneault
Friends, New Yorkers, Rangerstownians, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Alain Vigneault, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Alain Vigneault.
The man deemed “savior” has seen his empire wither and crumble.
Built on a foundation of gold and steel, supported by sticks and cloth
Alain Vigneault led blindly. Trusting those with years instead of talent
A once proud and noble team turned sour by hubris and age.
The excuses many and varied but all swords turn to one man
The one at the head of it all, standing above his charges
like a King on a throne of Glass.
Alain Vigneault was gifted the greatest gift an empire could receive
And has squandered it by playing favorites and refusing to change.
There is no praise for Alain Vigneault,
no flowery prose to sing to his greatness
Only the cold, harsh words of truth.
An empire that has found success in spite of him
Only to see the most crucial of defeats because of him
The song is old and the dance the same
Alain Vigneault was hailed as the savior of the New York Rangers
Now, the people cry out for a savior from this reign that started with such gilded hopes
Over the last 82 game journey, the signs grew bigger and more telling
Continually out-shot and outplayed.
Rescued time and again by men of valor who deserve better.
Then came the two week sprint where the dagger was sharpened.
Defeat wrenched from the jaws of victory time and again.
Ego and hubris won out over logic and reason.
Alain Vigneault stands on ice that gets thinner by the month.
The cracks becoming more and more pronounced.
(loosely adapted from Marc Antony’s eulogy to Caesar from William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar Act III, scene ii)
Regular Season Grade: C
There isn’t much to say about Vigneault’s regular season success. As the year wore on the Rangers kept getting out-played but still managed to win by riding the goaltending of Henrik Lundqvist and Antti Raanta. The constant juggling of the lineups, relying too heavily on line combinations and defense pairings that just weren’t working, and forcing Tanner Glass on the world all bring Vigneault’s grade down. But he did win games, so that’s something.
Playoffs Grade: F
Alain Vigneault single-handedly cost the Rangers the playoffs. There’s no two ways about it. There’s no shortage of evidence.
Four leads lost with under five minutes to go and in those crucial moments the Rangers worst defense pair, Marc Staal and Nick Holden, were on the ice. Having both Oscar Lindberg and Pavel Buchnevich in the lineup but only playing them for five minutes in a double overtime game. Playing Tanner Glass with Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan with the game on the line. No adjustments, no creativity, and no accepting of responsibility.
You can argue that other players needed to step up during the playoffs, but the final result? That falls on the man behind the bench. As deserving as criticism for the team’s failures as he would be deserving of praise for the team’s success.
Final Grade: C-
The regular season boosts the grade up a bit, but not much. How hot is his seat if the Rangers stumble out of the gate next season? How hot is it right now after a gutting defeat at the hands of an inferior team in the playoffs surrounded by so many conspicuous coaching errors? We have no way of knowing.
But we do know that the Rangers bench boss has to be better than he was last season.