Following the New York Rangers‘ embarrassing and pathetic loss to the Washington Capitals, a players-only, closed door meeting was held. Rangers coach Alain Vigneault was not fazed and even said as such during the post-game press conference. Regardless of what he thinks, the Rangers are playing unmotivated, soft hockey right now. Is this a function of the players simply not wanting to win or are they simply tuning out their coach? It may be a little bit of both.
Vigneault was hired by the Rangers as the anti-John Tortorella. He was portrayed as a kinder, gentler coach that emphasized offense and puck-possession. The one major difference between Vigneault and Tortorella is that Tortorella emphasized grit. He was able to do so because the Ranger lineup was and still is loaded with grinders. Vigneault’s style of play is more conducive to skill players. Vigneault inherited a roster of grinders, and it is very difficult to teach such a roster to play a finesse game.
Yet, at the same time, it is up to the players to display some professional pride. If they truly care as much as they say they do it is certainly not showing on the ice. Vigneault has also questioned the players’ effort in the media, especially following bad losses. These players wanted Tortorella gone, and this is what they have to deal with. If they will not buy in to Vigneault’s style of play the roster might as well be overhauled.
Is it fair to say there is a disconnect between the Ranger players and their coach? Probably not, because we truly don’t know unless we are inside the locker room. However, if we are to judge based on the team’s recent efforts it certainly seems that way.