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NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: Practice Day
THE MODERATOR: Alain, how did that shape the rest of your coaching career?
COACH VIGNEAULT: Well, that could be a really long answer. I’ll give you the Reader’s Digest version of it. Montreal is a great place to coach. It’s one of the one of the original six teams, as a coach you have to make sure your team is ready, you’re ready.
So I think it brings out the best in people. As we all know, a lot of the attention in Canadian markets on a 24/7 basis on your team, so it’s a good place to coach and a good place to play.
Q. (No Audio)?
COACH VIGNEAULT: Well, I would say to you that I was six years in between NHL jobs. Got fired from the Habs and my next coaching job was in Montreal coaching the junior team. Instead of being in front of 21,000 people, I was in front of 1,000 people coaching my team. But at that time I had built the pay, I had a family to make sure I was providing for, and that was the only place I could work. That’s where I always felt that working was honorable, and I went to work there. Did a couple more years Junior, and I was fortunate to land a job in the American League. Then from there I was fortunate enough to get a second chance at coaching in this league.
Q. This is a team that has no designated captain. I wonder how that’s evolved and how that works? It seems to work well, and if you’ve ever had that kind of experience before?
COACH VIGNEAULT: I don’t believe in any team you need guys to have letters to lead. Some guys, you know, leading is the ability to influence people. The ability to influence them to do the right thing. If you have that influence, and you have that ability, you don’t need to have a C or an A on your sweater to do that.
So, that being said, we’ve got I think quite a few guys on our team that have the ability to influence in the right way, and they do it. I mean, they listen to what we want as far as standards and what we want to be part of this culture, and they help us supply it.
Q. Was there ever (No Audio)?
COACH VIGNEAULT: I mean, the goalie for a couple of years (laughing).
Q. A couple of guys were talking earlier that you keep them calm. Was that something when you had your meetings with people in this organization that they felt was important that following towards?
COACH VIGNEAULT: I have nothing to do with following John. This is about me being me and bringing the right thing to this team. That has nothing to do with what happened before me.
Q. What do you expect from the crowd tomorrow and how important is their energy?
COACH VIGNEAULT: Well, having fan support is obviously huge at this time of the year. Unconditional love, it’s something that’s really beneficial to a team. I mean, it’s so demanding on the ice. They could really help you energy?wise. It’s a fun time. I’m sure it’s fun for them, and it’s definitely fun for us.
Q. A follow?up to Jeff’s question about the leadership. What has Brad Richards meant in the locker room?
COACH VIGNEAULT: I would say to you that even when Ryan was here, since day one, Brad has been without a doubt one of my top go?to guys. He came here with a great attitude. He came here with great work ethic. He’s been a really strong role model since day one since I’ve been here. I’ve really leaned on him and his experience.
When Ryan left for Tampa, Brad was getting a very good friend, so he helped, obviously, build that relationship with the rest of his teammates. But since the first day this year he’s been a really big part of our team on the ice and in the dressing room and off the ice.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about where Ryan McDonagh has brought his game since the beginning of the playoffs and coming off the injury and what not and how much he’s elevated?
COACH VIGNEAULT: He’s brought his game right back to where it was before he got hurt. He was without a doubt our best defenseman, maybe to some extent our top player throughout the year. That’s how good he’s been for us defensively and offensively. Coming back from missing those few games, it took him a little bit more time than we anticipated for him to find his game. It took him, I’m sure if you asked him, he would say the same thing, it took him more time than he anticipated to find his game, but he did find it at the right time, and we need him to continue that.
Q. How close knit is this locker room compared to other teams you’ve been a part of?
COACH VIGNEAULT: I’ve been very fortunate as a coach. I mean, I’ve had some good teams and I’ve had some teams that really put the team in front of them. That is the only way you can have success in this league. There is no doubt, though, that this team has really come together at the right time. I would say since Christmas we were playing good before, not getting results, but since Christmas we’ve been slowly, but surely, getting better and better, coming together, and we hope that’s going to continue.
Q. I’m wondering if (No Audio) for this job.
COACH VIGNEAULT: I’ve had a lot of advice given to me over the years. On such a short notice, I don’t think I can come up with one specific thing. I would say though that everybody says to be yourself and to stick with what you believe in. If at one point you’re shown the door, at least you did it your way. I’ve got to think I was seven years in a Canadian market, and in the other Canadian markets at that time 20 coaches went through. It’s a tough environment to coach. I did it my way, and I’ve come here to New York in another great hockey market, and I’m doing it my way.
Q. (No Audio)?
COACH VIGNEAULT: He’s as good as he’s been all year. Obviously, he’s in a zone right now, and at this time of the year you need strong goaltending. The competition is so good, the shooters are so good. If you make it to this time it’s because you’re playing against the best teams. You need your goaltender to be your best player or one of your best players, and Hank’s certainly done that for us.
Q. Can you talk about the difference or the benefit of getting Kreider back into the lineup? What has it meant since he came back from that injury?
COACH VIGNEAULT: Well, he’s, as everybody knows speed is his best attribute. That speed combined with that strength and size, and when he goes in on the forecheck, very tough for the other team’s defensemen. If he goes and drives the net, it’s very hard for the defensemen to stop him. He has a real strong net presence because he’s a big man. So ever since we got him back and went through that Pittsburgh series, he certainly helped our team quite a bit.
Q. (No Audio)?
COACH VIGNEAULT: I caught the first part of the question. I didn’t catch the last part.
Q. (No Audio) talk about coming together?
COACH VIGNEAULT: Yeah, for our group, Marty’s situation has been a challenging one, a delicate situation. But I think for the most part our group has handled it really well. You never know what the proper behavior is in these situations, but I thought for the most part our guys were there to support Marty, and we’re going to continue to do that as he’s going through this.
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: Practice Day
Q. On Thomas Vanek practicing with the fourth line, is that a demotion or is that an attempt to balance the lines now?
COACH THERRIEN: Don’t read too much, okay. All right. Today, don’t read too much.
Q. Because they might change tomorrow?
COACH THERRIEN: They might change tomorrow.
Q. I just wrote that, actually.
COACH THERRIEN: Always a step ahead.
Q. What is your scouting report or knowledge of the relationship between Briere and Vanek, if at some point in the series you decide to put the two together?
COACH THERRIEN: You know what, the past is the past, you know? I know they’ve got a good result a few years ago, but it’s a long time ago. So, yes, they’ve built chemistry in the past, but don’t read too much. I know you guys like to read about practicing and lines and all that type of thing, but don’t read too much.
Q. I know you just said that and all, but just in the past you have tended to rely on duos up front and going back to duos that worked again. I’m not reading too much, but based on –
COACH THERRIEN: I think you’re reading too much.
Q. I might be. But today for practice, you decided to put Gio back with Pleks which is something that you used over the course of the year. What is it about that combination that you think works?
COACH THERRIEN: One thing, the Plekanec line needs to give us more. I’m ready to stick sometimes with combination and with three guys working together as long as I see even the results sometimes is not there but the chances are there. But if I see there are no chances, not much happening, so now I’m at a point where I have to make some decisions, and those are the reasons why at times a coach will make decisions regarding lines, because we see—we normally judge with goals and assists. That’s not always the way we do things, but if I see they’ve got chances, if I see I like to stick with it. If I see it’s the opposite, okay, now I’ve got to take some decisions. Hopefully, by making some changes, something’s going to happen.
Q. No matter who Vanek is paired up with, what’s he have to do to get back to being a real impact player in this series?
COACH THERRIEN: Like I said before, we reach the Eastern Conference Finals right now, and we need to be able to do that. The team, we need contributions from everyone.
Q. Tokarski tomorrow?
COACH THERRIEN: Yes.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports