The former Canucks choice was introduced on Thursday as “AV,” a welcome shift for many used to the mercurial and sometimes nasty personality of “Torts.”
“I was thinking about the opportunity to coach the New York Rangers, one of the original six teams in this great city,” said Vigneault at the press conference. “There’s not a chance I could pass that up. I’m here. I’m ready for the questions.”
One of the most noticeable changes will be a change in approach. Under Tortorella, the Rangers were a shot-blocking machine with a defensively-minded slant to just about everything on the ice. But anyone who’s watched Canucks hockey knows that AV will be bringing something different. He likes to activate the defence and he plays an up-tempo style, which should be exciting for fans on Broadway.
“I’m going into this with an open mind,” Vigneault said. “I think (players) should be too. I’m going in with a clean slate. Let’s see what we can write on that slate.”
In terms of that clean slate, he says that he’s going into things with a little more freedom in mind. “I believe that your top skill players have to be given a little bit more latitude,” Vigneault said. “They have to understand the game. They have to understand the time in the game when you need to play a little higher percentage, but they also have to be given that latitude to make something out of nothing. That’s why those guys have the high end skill. You’ve gotta give ’em that leeway.”
Speculation was in the wind about Vigneault’s hiring for a while now, especially after he turned down the job in Dallas (which subsequently went to Lindy Ruff). “I want to win,” Vigneault said. “I did find out that it is a lot easier to negotiate yourself a contract when you’ve got two teams that are after you than just one.”
The plan for the Rangers from here is to flesh out the rest of the coaching staff under Vigneault, which should go a long way in terms of formulating a game plan. Vigneault’s system should suit guys like Brad Richards just fine, too, and they should be able to flourish under “that leeway.”