On Saturday night the Rangers announced that Alain Vigneault was being relieved of his duties as head coach.
Vigneault had been head coach of the Rangers for the past five seasons and had a contract extension set to kick in for the next two years.
Rumors earlier in the season indicated that the Rangers could fire Vigneault after their slow start.
In a poll asked last season, 61% of readers did not want Vigneault to continue as head coach.
Following the 2016 season, a similar poll indicated that 56% of readers wanted the Rangers to keep Vigneault as head coach.
Larry Brooks writes that over the past few years the Rangers have seen a decline in neutral and defensive zone play and that their goalies were consistently under siege. (NY Post)
Brooks writes that under Vigneault the Rangers became a very "passive" team on the ice. (NY Post)
Adam Rotter: I think the main reason why the Rangers fired Alain Vigneault was because doing so was the final piece of the tear down. As the Rangers look to rebuild they will need consistency in message behind the bench and this is the right time for that. Even if Alain Vigneault was brought back for next season, it's unlikely he would have been the coach when the team truly became contenders again. This allows the Rangers to not only rebuild their team but rebuild it with a certain style and coach in mind and no nagging questions after every losing streak about whether they need to fire the coach.
Vigneault has been criticized for his handling of young players, both here and in Vancouver, but many players in both places took big steps under him. The Sedins were 25 when AV became their coach and under him they became the Hall of Famers they are today. Same for Ryan Kesler and even for Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan who started under John Tortorella but went to another level under AV. Mats Zuccarello took great strides under him, so did Derrick Brassard, Kevin Hayes and others.
Vigneault had success with some players, struggled with others and had questionable handling of a few like JT Miller, Dylan McIlrath, Pavel Buchnevich and Jimmy Vesey. Some of that is on Vigneault but the players are not blameless in those situations. Either way, when you combine that, with his on-ice style, off-ice style and the desire for a consistent face in the rebuilding you get many of the reasons why the Rangers are now looking for a new coach.