Here’s my story from The Journal News and lohud.com:
By Rick Carpiniello
GREENBURGH – Alain Vigneault looked tanned, rested and ready to go Thursday. The Rangers’ coach had a short summer due to the team’s surprise trip to the Stanley Cup Final, which ended in mid-June.
Vigneault had better be rested, because he’s got some work to do as the team hits the ice to open training camp Friday at MSG Training Center.
He’s got to name a new captain, and maybe some new alternate captains — which he said he would do before the regular season begins — and he’s got to fill holes left by the departures of Brad Richards, Brian Boyle, Anton Stralman and Benoit Pouliot via free agency, and Derek Dorsett via trade.
Working in Vigneault’s favor is the lack of complications — at the moment — in training camp. For two of the last three seasons, the Rangers played all of their preseason games on the road and opened the season with long trips. The other training camp started in January due to the NHL lockout.
Vigneault’s short summer isn’t as short as last summer, when he was hired in June and had to endure the lengthy road trips and an ill-advised minicamp in Banff, Alberta, while trying to familiarize himself with a new team and a new city.
Also, Vigneault has some experience with this. He went to the Stanley Cup Final with Vancouver in 2011, then won just one playoff game after winning the Presidents’ Trophy in 2012. Following up the success of last spring won’t be easy.
“You have to turn the page on what’s happened in the past and focus on the now,” he said. “Our focus for our group right now has to be on training camp and the different goals we want to establish during training camp — the conditioning, getting on the same page as far as our systems and our style of play, and obviously coming together as a group. Probably the most important part right now is to pick our team.”
Vigneault thinks he’s more ready for the challenge of “the season after.”
“I remember coming back (in 2011-12 with) Vancouver at this time, and I was still exhausted,” he said. “I remember coming to camp and looking at how I felt internally and how my players felt, and it wasn’t the same as the year before.
“This year, it took me two or three weeks to (say), ‘I’m back,’ and for the last three weeks to a month, I’ve been chomping at the bits to get back at it. From all my (returning) players, I’m getting the same response.”
Vigneault probably knows who his captain will be: Ryan McDonagh. The coach might want more than two alternates. But he certainly wants the leaders to establish themselves in camp.
The captain, Vigneault said, “has to have the power to influence players in the right direction by example, by the way he conducts himself. He also obviously has to be able to regroup the troops. And he is an extension, with his assistants, of the coaching staff.
“The core values and the standards that we’re trying to establish, when (the coaches are) not in the room, they’re the ones that are pushing that, making sure everybody on our team does it the right way.”
It starts Friday.
Back to work
The Rangers invited 63 players to training camp, which starts Friday at MSG Training Center in Greenburgh. Twenty-two of the invitees represented the Rangers at the 2014 Traverse City Tournament. The players will begin on-ice activities at 10 a.m.
First preseason game: Monday, 7 p.m., vs. the Devils at Madison Square Garden
First regular-season game: Oct. 9, 8 p.m., at St. Louis
Photo by the Associated Press.