Alain Vigneault was fired as the New York Rangers head coach today after posting a 34-39-9 record this season. The Rangers finished out their season with a 5-0 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers today. The Rangers finish the year in last place in the Metropolitan division and miss the playoffs.
NYR have fired head coach Alain Vigneault. Search will commence for his replacement.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) April 8, 2018
Alain Vigneault Fired as New York Rangers Head Coach
To many Rangers fans delight, Vigneault was ousted as head coach today. The team’s poor performance to begin the season started a cascade of rumors around the coach’s future. #FireAV became a trending hashtag throughout Rangers Twitter pages and across social media. The firing of Vigneault effectively terminates his contract extension meant to take him through the 2019-20 season.
The Rangers weren’t always this bleak under Vigneault. In fact, they were quite good. After arriving with the team in July 2013, the Rangers surged toward massive post-season success. The Blueshirts went to the Stanley Cup Final, their first in 20 years, in the 2013-14 season, only to drop the series in fives games against the Los Angeles Kings.
The following year, the Rangers continued to steamroll their way through the league. In 2014-15, the Rangers hoisted the President’s Trophy with a total of 113 points. The team would continue on to the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lighting, losing in Game Seven at Madison Square Garden. Unfortunately for the Rangers, this would be the game that set the tone for their future downfall.
What Goes Up, Must Come Down
As the New York Rangers returned to MSG for the 2015-16 season, there was a noticeable change in the locker room. The Rangers didn’t recapture their playoff glory from the previous two years. The Blueshirts would still find their way into the playoffs with 101 points. The Pittsburgh Penguins demolished the team 4-1 in the first round, leaving the team embarrassed, especially considering their previous dominance over the Penguins.
The Blueshirts came back again, determined to better themselves in the 2016-17 season with youngsters like Brady Skjei and Jimmy Vesey added to the roster. However, Vigneault continued to favor older veterans such as Marc Staal, Dan Girardi and Derek Stepan for minutes.
Not trusting younger players is AV’s downfall in a league that is formulated of youthful powerhouses like Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid. Despite the team’s mid-season struggles, the Rangers signed Vigneault to his contract extension in January 2017. Unfortunately, AV’s improper player deployment from the head coach in crucial ending minutes of games cost the Rangers the second round series against the Ottawa Senators.
AV: A Brief History
Vigneault began his coaching career with the Montreal Canadiens before moving on to the Vancouver Canucks. He was nominated for the Jack Adams Coach of the Year trophy in 1999-2000. However, he lost to Joel Quenneville, coach of the St. Louis Blues at the time. He would later win the award in 2006-07 while coaching the Canucks. Vigneault also led the Canucks to two back-to-back President’s Trophies (2010-11 and 2011-12) and to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.
Despite his many accolades, Vigneault has a reputation for burning out with teams. His old style coaching methods are often speculated as the reason for this shift in dynamic over time. Vigneault got fired by the Canadiens mid-season in 2000-01. He failed to propel them to the playoffs numerous times and the team’s continued struggles did not help his cause. The Canucks demoralizing sweep in the first round of the 2013 playoffs by the San Jose Sharks also earned AV his next trip out the door.
Where will Vigneault go from here? No one knows. However, the New York Rangers will begin their search for a new bench boss today.