It was more than just style of play that got John Tortorella kicked to the Broadway curb. His unwillingness to change eventually ushered him to the exit. Yesterday at Radio City Music Hall, the Rangers introduced Alain Vigneault as the 35th head coach of the club, replacing Tortorella, who was fired on May 29 after four and half years. And if general manager Glen Sather was clear about his opinion on anything, it was that Tortorella’s grinding, defensive style took its toll on the players, and more importantly, Tortorella’s unwillingness to adapt limited their ability to be in direct competition to win the Stanley Cup. “I’d say maybe beyond stubborn,” Sather said about Tortorella’s attitude. “I just felt it was getting to be so hard on our players, playing the style we were playing, that we needed to make a change to give them a little fresh life and more of an optimistic view of how to play the game.” Optimism reigned on this day, as it always does for the hiring of a new coach. Vigneault, who signed a five-year, $10 million deal and likes the nickname “AV,” has a stellar record coming off seven seasons with the Canucks, preceded years earlier by three and a half with the Canadiens. As Tortorella prepares to accept the Canucks’ offer in what amounts to an old-time coach swap, their respective abilities to change and adapt seems to be in the starkest contrast. “Torts is the kind of guy that pushes to win,” Sather said. “It doesn’t mean that AV isn’t going to be that guy. He’s a pusher as well. Sometimes you have to mesh those two together. You have to give the guy a little love and you have to give a little kick in the [behind] once in a while.” For Tortorella, it was a lot more about kicking than it was loving. He demanded his teams always put defense first, and it stifled the offensive skill at his disposal. For the 52-year-old Vigneault, having that type of high-end skill in players such as Rick Nash is something that has to be nurtured, not suppressed.
Vigneault preaches ‘latitude’ at Rangers intro
New York Post | Jun 22