By Joe McDonald at 17 June, 2013, 9:43 am
You knew the Rangers would do the right thing here. And with the hiring of Alain Vigneault, it seems like they have.
After the tough love and abrasive approach of John Tortorella, the Blueshirts needed a change and Vigneault’s soft but firm approach seems just right for the team right now, so much so that those who do sports betting on NHL may just pick the Rangers to win the Cup in 2014.
His former assistant with the Vancouver Canucks, Rick Bowness, who was recently hired by the Tampa Bay Lightning to be an that team’s top assistant, said in an interview with the New York Daily News, Vigneault was a special person.
“Ten minutes into the interview, I knew I was going to hire him, (because of) his honesty, straightforwardness, strength of character,” Bowness said to Pat Leonard of the Daily News. “You knew he was going to be very loyal, very committed and very hardworking. You could just tell.”
One of the biggest complaints of Tortorella’s regime was that he stifled offensive creativity in favor of a defensive blocking shots approach. That cost him this year with the Rangers power play going in the tank during the playoffs.
But defense wins championships and Vigneault was able to balance both offense and defense to allow the Canucks to become a powerhouse, winning two President’s Trophies and reaching the Finals once.
“You’ve got to let your players play, you’ve got to let them run, and at the same time you can command commitment to team defense, which we were able to do and then went to the Finals,” Bowness said to the Daily News. “We never lost our focus on team ‘D’, but we certainly loosened the reins up and let them run a little bit as time went on.”
Plus after coaching in hockey hotbeds like Montreal and Vancouver, Vigneault should have no problem adjusting to New York. In fact, it may be easier because unlike the Canadian markets, the pressure can be a little less in the states.
“He’s been through a lot of pressure situations,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said. “He can handle a lot of pressure. All the heat that he’s had to put up with in Vancouver, he’s handled it extremely well, and it never seemed to bother him.”
And that includes working with the New York media, which was very hostile under Tortorella.
“The media will not intimidate him one bit,” Bowness said to the Daily News. “I never saw one thing that there was something in the media that rattled him. He has thick skin, and he doesn’t care. The media will not get to him one bit.”
It’s too early to tell if Bovada sportsbook for hockey has the Rangers as the 2014 favorite, but hiring Vigneault is definitely a good start for the Blueshirts.