Alain Vigneault is the new Flyers coach.
There were a lot of instant reactions in Flyerdom yesterday. And, as the case most times these days, the extremist opinions were the loudest.
There were those who panned this hire as another NHL retread who hasn’t won anything, a coach who trusts veterans over younger players, a coach who pushes the envelope with his offensive systems but has a defensive blind spot and relies heavily on goaltending to keep his team in games.
Conversely, there were those who see that Vigneault took two different teams to the Stanley Cup Finals, had eight teams reach 100-point regular seasons, won a President’s Trophy and a Jack Adams Award as NHL Coach of the year and were chortling “Let’s Go” with their thumbs on their smart phones.
The actual reaction though, as always, should be somewhere in between.
Vigneault is a good coach. You don’t get hired by four NHL teams and coach nearly 1,200 games and make the playoffs a dozen times if you aren’t a good coach.
As a matter of fact, the only coaches in NHL history who have won as many games as Vigneault has (648) and have taken at least two teams to the finals is pretty short:
- Scotty Bowman (Montreal, Pittsburgh, Detroit)
- Dick Irvin (Toronto, Montreal)
- Mike Babcock (Anaheim, Detroit)
- Mike Keenan (Philadelphia, Chicago, New York Rangers)
- Alain Vigneault (Vancouver, New York Rangers)
The one thing that stands out on that list? Vigneault is the only one who didn’t win a Cup.
That was something that GM Chuck Fletcher pointed out during his Conference Call – that Vigneault is “ready” to win a Cup.
I would hope so. If after trying 16 times and failing to reach your goal 16 times, I would hope you are ready.