NEWPORT, RI – I fulfill my writing assignment while on a trip to the Ocean State with none other than Grote2DMax. No, the International Tennis Hall of Fame isn’t cause for the trip; it’s to see how college students managed to trash a house in such a bucolic setting instead. And though we may never fully know the answer to that, I do know the following:
Watching Chicago beat my Boston Bruins in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals, while watching in a dive bar in partisan Bruins country pissed me off.
Alain Vigneault (VEEn-yo) is officially the new bench boss for your New York Rangers. Oddly enough, word has it that John Tortorella is set to man the same position as Vancouver head coach in what is basically a trade of head coaches after Lindy Ruff filled the Dallas Stars vacant coaching position.
My take on the Al Viggy deal is that the Rangers certainly won’t get worse, as Vigneault’s learning curve came when he took over the Montreal Canadiens (hurl!) coaching job – to the delight of me and fellow Bruins devotees – as he failed to finish higher than 4th in the Northeast Division in three plus years at the helm. It took Viggy some time in the minors to hone his craft, which served him well with an absolutely stellar run with the Canucks. What is troubling however is the quick exit during the last two playoffs of his teams and a 3-12 record since Game 3 of the 2011 Stanley Cup despite all that talent up and down the Canucks roster.
Rangers fans will no longer have to watch LW Chris Krieder get stale sitting on the bench. This coach uses all his players and builds a confidence level for the long haul of an 82 game season + playoffs. Karl Hagelin’s and Michael Del Zotto’s numbers will rise to new heights as the pair plays their individual game within the team game rather than a position inside “the system” boorishly used by the previous coach. Physical size on the current roster isn’t much of a problem as many other Eastern Conference team have opted for larger lineups in competing with the successful heavyweights. The hiring of Vigneault almost guarantees the signing of UFA dirtbag Raffi Torres–he’s the coaches type of player and brings the chippy game necessitating the team to bond as a result of scrums, fights, and suspensions. In short order, team chemistry will only improve with on-ice turmoil instead of locker room tumult.
Most important to the Rangers franchise is Henrik Lundqvist. Bound to happen in 2013-14 is a reduction in the slave-like amount of games he’s been forced to play during “Torts” reign of terror. A fresh King makes for a happier court but “re-upping” with the Blueshirts may rest on how far the team goes in the playoffs. Another frustrating exit could mean a new kingdom for Lundqvist as this situation is to be Vigneault’s greatest hurdle.
West Coast Craig, tomorrow.