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Could Vigneault be on hot seat?

Leslie Monteiro



The title based on a question could be construed as a hot take. Guilty as charged, especially coming from a writer who knows nothing about hockey.

That said, this may not be crazy after all if the Rangers are off to a terrible start by the time the calendar flips to November. If these four games are any indication, Alain Vigneault should be wondering about his job security as the Rangers head coach.

It’s four games, but the Rangers are not off to a great start at 1-3-0 after a 3-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. Not only are they losing, but they have started the season flat by not being sharp and being outplayed by their opponents. This can get the natives restless and make the Rangers front office trigger-happy in terms of firing the head coach.


Vigneault knows this, too. As a seasoned hockey coach, he knows hockey coaches are often made as scapegoats for a team’s awful start and teams look for a new voice to jumpstart the players. He knew he will eventually be fired the minute he agreed to coach the Rangers, so there’s no looking back.

What he has to hope is his players figure out how to score and get off to a great start to start the game. His team could play better defense, not to mention quality goaltending from. None of this has happened so far, and this raised questions about how prepared they were to start training camp. This is why this falls on the Rangers head coach. It’s his responsibility to get his team sharp.

Maybe the amount of minutes these players played in the postseason over the years have finally caught up to them. It was not a problem for them to start the season in recent years. Still, no one wants to hear millionaires’ plight, not when it’s expensive to go to a Rangers game at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers need to get their young players to start producing. They have regressed in recent years, and they have been a no-show come playoff time. Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, Jimmy Vesey and Kevin Hayes haven’t played like the stars they were touted to be.

The Rangers defense has gotten worse each year, too. They have not played the quality defense they used to play under then-Rangers coach John Tortorella. For example, they don’t block shots like they used to. They turn the puck over, and they let other teams’ wingers get wide open to score.

Lundqvist has been awful so far, too. Could it be age has caught up to him?

It’s a long season, but Rangers fans and James Dolan do not think that way. This Rangers team does not get the benefit of the doubt when they haven’t won the Cup since 1994. They have had several chances to win the championship in recent years, but they have disappointed. No one can blame the Rangers front office if a change in head coach is the way to go.

The Rangers have to try something. They can’t stay the same. There can’t be complacency. Even if it’s desperate, they owe it to themselves to make a coaching change if things don’t get better soon.

Already, apathy has sinked in New York. No one knew the Rangers started their season last week in light of the Yankees going on a playoff run and the Giants being awful by being winless to start the season. This is what happens when a team with high expectations disappoint in the playoffs year after year.

Rangers fans wonder if their team’s window of opportunity of winning a championship is slammed shut. The players haven’t stepped up in the playoffs, and they are only going to get older. It could be this core is not good enough to win in the playoffs. Results have showed in the last few years.

Someone is going to pay for it. It’s the way pro sports works. Tortorella can attest to that, and so can Tom Renney. Previous Rangers coaches that lost their job because the front office lost confidence in them leading them. Vigneault could be a casualty of front office’s high expectations soon. It wasn’t an accident the team hired former Stars head coach Lindy Ruff as Vigneault’s associate coach this offseason.

It’s doubtful a new voice will make a difference when it comes to leading the Rangers to a Stanley Cup, but it’s good enough to make a difference to jumpstart this underachieving team.

No one is reporting Vigneault is coaching for his job, but he is not stupid. He knows what’s going on.

He is wise enough to know he has to figure it out or he will be looking for work.

Leslie Monteiro is a syndicated sports columnist who writes about the Tri-State area teams for the Upstate Courier. He is based in Fort Lee, New Jersey, and can be reached on Twitter @MongoGoesInSane.