New York Rangers: Firing of Alain Vigneault kicks off offseason changes

MONTREAL, QC - APRIL 12: Head coach of the New York Rangers Alain Vigneault (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - APRIL 12: Head coach of the New York Rangers Alain Vigneault (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

The New York Rangers fired five-year head coach Alain Vigneault following the final game of the season on Saturday.

New York Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton got right to business Saturday in firing head coach Alain Vigneault only hours into the Rangers’ offseason.

The Rangers finished their season with an abominating display in Philadelphia, dropping their 82nd contest 5-0 to the Flyers and handing them a playoff spot.

Vigneault’s job wasn’t too secure to begin with this season, but after ending the season with some of the worst Rangers hockey I have seen in over a decade, I think Vigneault made the decision easy for the front office.

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After five years at the helm in Manhattan, Vigneault packs his bags to move on to the next era in his career, leaving behind a 226-147-37 overall record as the Blueshirts’ head coach.

It is interesting to look at the result of each of the five seasons that Vigneault has coached as each of them ended at a different level than another.

We saw the Rangers end their season in the first, second and third rounds of the playoffs, the Stanley Cup Final and now this season missing the playoffs with Vigneault behind the bench.

It was a weird feeling for Rangers fans as this was the first season the Rangers were out of the race this early since the 2003-04 season.

It ends the playoff streak at seven and is the first time since 2009-10 with no playoff appearance, as that year the Rangers were eliminated on game 82 in a devastating shootout loss.

It is certainly another sign that it is the end of a fruitful era of Rangers hockey. Vigneault was the head coach through some of the most memorable moments in many decades of team history.

It was a breath of fresh air for Ranger fans when Vigneault took over for John Tortorella in 2013. Vigneault brought a new style based on speed to the Rangers as opposed to Tortorella’s defensive minded style that just wasn’t enough to get them over the hump.

Vigneault gave a Rangers team that had made a couple deep playoff runs with Tortorella new life.

We saw a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2014 and a President’s Trophy in 2015 which served to be the peak years in Vigneault’s stint as head coach and in Rangers hockey this century.

However, as we approached this season, it seemed he just lost his hold on the team and things really got out of whack this year as it was such an erratic season.

I think Vigneault was flirting with unemployment back in October when the Rangers got off on a horrible foot with a 4-7-2 record in their first month.

He salvaged his job when they strung together six straight wins and put themselves back in the race through December.

Once 2018 commenced it seemed to be all down hill with occasional victories here and there and then the infamous memo coming out in February about the team’s plans.

I think that they really kept Vigneault on a long leash this season and this could have happened at any point in the last few months and they just waited for this agonizing campaign to end before carrying out the deed.

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For the Rangers to revamp their identity, they needed a new coaching style. Firing Vigneault right away gives ample time for them to patiently search for someone new through the summer.

This is a change that Rangers fans were definitely prepared for as many were calling for his head since October.

At the end of the day it is another step towards achieving the assembling of this new look Rangers team and that the Rangers mean business this offseason as they did at the trade deadline.

Come October, we know for sure there will be a different product on the ice.