Another year, another disappointing mess of a team known as the New York Rangers.
It is now December, when supposedly new head coach Alain Vigneault‘s uptempo style of play was supposed to kick in and the players would be scoring at will. The Rangers should be winning 4-0 every night. Well, as expected that dream has not become and reality will never do so — not because of Vigneault, but because of the team’s “architect”, GM Glen Sather.
Before being hired as the next head coach of the Rangers, Vigneault was the head coach of the Vancouver Canucks for seven seasons and had tons of talent in both the forward and defensive positions like Henrik Sedin, his twin brother Daniel Sedin, Kevin Bieksa, Ryan Kessler, Alexandre Burrows and Christian Ehrhoff.
With talent like that, you can easily run and execute an uptempo style of hockey where the defensemen pinch in at the right times. If all goes wrong, they’d have the speed at both the forward and defensive positions to skate back and backcheck.
So knowing that this is the style Vigneault likes to play, Sather kept pretty much the entire Rangers’ roster from last year, fully of players who are used to playing a conservative/defensive style game under John Tortorella. I mean, what was the biggest offseason acquisition for the Rangers this year? Benoit Pouliot? Are you kidding me?
We now know why Pouliot has been on five different teams in the eight seasons he has been in the NHL. He is a former first-round bust, and that is all he will ever be. For a team that struggles so much to score goals, Sather brought in a former first-round bust thinking he will be the savior of this team’s scoring problems.
So guess what? Not only are the Rangers still struggling to score this season, but they now are letting their defensive game slip. They do not know when is the proper time to pinch in and are getting caught in way too many odd-man rushes, leading to goals. The Rangers have a 15-17-1 record on December 15, and are currently on a four-game losing streak.
The only person I feel sorry for in all of this is Vigneault. Sather’s incompetence with this team this year and over his decade and a half as the GM has made Vigneault look like a bad coach, when the reality is that he has a roster filled with overrated defensive-minded players with little to no offensive skill.
So it is up to Sather to fix this mess and give Vigneault offensive players to play in his system, right?
One would think that, but there is no pressure on Sather to do anything since owner James Dolan has made it publicly known that Sather can be the Rangers’ GM for as long as he wants to. Another great decision made by the worst owner in professional sports.
So while rumors are floating around of the Rangers making big changes, do not count on it. Sather knows that his job his safe, but the same cannot be said for Vigneault because Sather is his boss. It’s much easier to place the blame on someone else then to take responsibility for your mess and to fix it. I find it very hard for anyone to deny that Sather set up Vigneault for failure with this train wreck of a team.