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Rangers Hire Alain Vigneault as Head Coach

Alex Silverberg
6/23/13

On Friday, the New York Rangers held a press conference to announce the hiring of Alain Vigneault as the 35th head coach of the organization. Vigneault, who previously manned the bench for the Vancouver Canucks, has a 422-288-35-61 NHL record with a .583 winning percentage over a 10-year coaching career.

“AV,” as he likes to be called, is just what the Rangers need after being stifled offensively by the overly conservative Tortorella regime. Vigneault brings a defensively responsible run-and-gun style to a team with a solid d-core and an underperforming group of forwards. He has the chance to turn a 2.25 goals per game team into an offensive juggernaut.

"I believe that your top skill players have to be given a little bit more latitude," Vigneault said at the press conference. "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."

One player that could be given “a little bit more latitude” is Brad Richards. The struggling center was last seen healthy scratched after being relegated to the fourth line against the Boston Bruins by a frustrated John Tortorella. Before the singing of AV, the rumor mill was swirling with speculation as to if Richards would be bought out of his nine-year, $60 million contract. Richards has an annual cap hit of $6.6 million, which could hamstring the Blueshirts in their mission of locking up their surfeit of young talent.

With the arrival of a new coach, Richards will be given next season to show he still can be the player that warranted that ridiculous contract. It may be possible that Richards’ game was just not suited to the Tortorella style of play. The center will be a “top skill player” in AV’s system and will be given every chance to excel. Whether he does or not is anyone’s guess.

Besides getting our top players going, another one of AV’s jobs is to make the game fun again for a group of players who might as well have been in boot camp rather than playing a game they love. Everybody will enjoy Vigneualt’s sense of humor. I mean, how often do you see a coach laugh behind the bench?

Welcome to New York, AV. Bring us the Cup.

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