by PuckStopsHere on 04/18/14 at 12:32 AM ET
Last summer the Vancouver Canucks and New York Rangers effectively traded coaches. Alain Vigneault left Vancouver to coach the Rangers and John Tortorella left New York to coach the Canucks. This would be a pretty good opportunity to compare the two coaches with each other's teams.
A season has been played. The New York Rangers had a solid playoff season. They posted the fifth best record in the East Conference. This is a slight improvement from their sixth place finish in 2013. The Vancouver Canucks missed the playoffs. They finished 12th in the West Conference, missing the playoffs by eight points. In 2013 they had the fifth best record in the West Conference and won their division. Clearly based upon the season that just completed, Alain Vigneault won. He appears to be the better coach.
Tortorella has been a successful coach in the past. He won the Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004. His problem is that he can have a more abrasive personality and be tough to get along with. In January he was suspended for fifteen days after trying to push his was into the Calgary Flames dressing room after a brawl in their game against the Canucks. It seemed that was the point that he lost the Canucks. They struggled without him and never seemed to recapture any momentum. It doesn't help that this time corresponded with injuries and slumps for the Sedin brothers. Vancouver also struggled with increased travel from the new alignments that led to more eastern road trips. This caught up with them and they were not able to overcome it. As a result, John Tortorella probably will not be back in Vancouver. Likely the new general manager will replace him.
Alain Vigneault is more of a player's coach. The Rangers did well under him. The Rangers were not significantly better with Vigneault in charge, but Alain Vigneault showed that he was better able to adapt to a new situation. John Tortorella was not. Thus this year shows Alain Vigneault is the better coach.
I am not convinced that this one season is an endorsement of Vigneault or an indictment of Tortorella. Both have several years of coaching at the NHL level in their pasts. Both have been successful more often than they have failed. However we do have some evidence that Vigneault may be the better coach. The New York Rangers are better off for hiring him and it came at the expense of the Vancouver Canucks.
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