Here’s my story on Alain Vigneault from The Journal News and LoHud.com:
By Rick Carpiniello
NEW YORK—Alain Vigneault, on a makeshift stage at Radio City Music Hall for his introductory press conference Friday, looked at Rangers general manager GM Glen Sather and joked, that “It’s a lot easier to negotiate yourself a contract when you have two teams that are after you rather than just one.”
Vigneault is a divorced dad of two twenty-something daughters in the province of Quebec. For the last 10 years or so, he has seen them only a handful of times each year. So in turning down Dallas’ offer to coach the Stars, and in addition to taking a reported $10 million of James Dolan’s money for the next five years, that was another tipping point. Now he can coach an hour’s flight from his daughters and see them far more often.
If he has time. Vigneault, 52, has a huge project in front of him now. After failing to win it all with a far more talented team in Vancouver, he will be expected to win it all here.
“Winning the Stanley Cup remains our first and only goal,” Dolan said Friday.
The man Vigneault replaced — the sandpapery John Tortorella — was reportedly close to replacing Vigneault in Vancouver. The expectation, somehow, is that each will do a better job in his new place than his predecessor.
“Not a chance that I could pass (this) up,” Vigneault said. “I’m coming here to win.”
Then he used a term that probably gave the anti-Tortorella portion of the fan base some shivers, using Tortorella’s “the right way” cliché.
“To give you a simple answer,” Vigneault said about his style,. “I like my teams to play the right way, which is — if you’ve got room to make a play, make a play. If you’ve got space and time to carry the puck, carry the puck. If the other team’s got the gap on you or they’re playing you tight, sometimes you’ve got to make the high-percentage play and chip those pucks behind.
“I really believe in playing the right way offensively and defensively. I believe your top skill players have to be given a little more latitude.”
He noted that when he arrived in Vancouver seven seasons ago, that team didn’t have a lot of skill and played a more defensive system.
Vigneault is also a forward thinker, one who utilizes advances stats, for example, to get his offensive players more shifts that begin in the offensive zone, and vice versa for his defensive players. He has used a sleep expert and his computer ratings for energy levels to determine, for example, when his team should fly for road trips to maximize rest.
Vigneault dismissed himself from commenting on the potential Brad Richards buyout — which can be done only in a window starting 48 hours after the Cup finals end, until July 5. He spoke highly, of course, of Henrik Lundqvist (Sather spoke Friday with Lundqvist’s agent, Don Meehan, and they will meet in person next week as the goalie heads into his walk year).
Vigneault wants a larger staff, with probably three assistants, which could include Newell Brown, his long-time aide in Vancouver, and possibly Ulf Samuelsson, and maybe even Tortorella’s assistant, Mike Sullivan.
He wants to do it the right way, and he surely will do a lot of things off the ice better than Tortorella did them.
“I think we’re in that category of teams that’s really close to competing for that Stanley Cup,” he said.
“I’m going into this, and I think (the players) should be the same way, with an open mind. It’s a clean slate for everybody. Let’s decide what we want to write on that slate.”