New York Rangers must name Phil Housley head coach this offseason

Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

The New York Rangers would be wise to fire Alain Vigneault and bring in a new head coach.

While the New York Rangers did not go into the postseason with their typical high expectations, a second round exit to the Ottawa Senators was still a disappointing end to the season. Though New York led for the vast majority of the series, the Rangers managed to fall in six games to an inferior team.

However strong the Rangers played, they could not seem to close out the Senators late in games. Plenty of that falls on the defense, as well as those in charge of the defense. Namely, Alain Vigneault. Vigneault deployed the wrong players throughout the series, setting the Rangers up for failure. The players followed suit, and suddenly a should be five game series win turned into a six game series defeat.

Now the Rangers are entering promising times. The roster is younger than ever, the defense can be fixed this offseason, and the forward depth and goaltending remains outstanding. For New York to take the final step, however, they require the right man behind the bench.

That man is not Alain Vigneault. It is Phil Housley.

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Who Is Phil Housley?

Phil Housley is a former NHL defenseman, inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015. Housley currently works as an assistant coach for the Nashville Predators, helping to lead them to the Stanley Cup Final.

Specifically, Housley works with the defense. Given Housley’s terrific track record as an NHL player, the now-coach brings a perspective few can provide in today’s game. However, it is important to note Housley does not appear to bring the same downsides other former players can bring. He is a progressive mind leading a progressive defense.

Why Phil Housley?

First of all, Housley owns experience with members of the current Rangers roster. Housley led the 2013 USA World Junior Championship squad to the gold medal. That team included J.T. Miller and Jimmy Vesey.

Secondly, the most significant problem the Rangers are facing with their current roster is the defense. While improvements will be made by Jeff Gorton, the improvements must come with improved coaching. Housley helped turn Matthias Ekholm into a monster in Nashville, milked the most out of Roman Josi, and helps ensure the fantastic four receive the major minutes.

With Housley as head coach, Nick Holden would not be on the ice in a one goal playoff game with under two minutes remaining.

Additionally, it is imperative that the young defensemen on the roster receive proper ice-time and development. Alain Vigneault has not shown the ability to handle that responsibility, while Phil Housley clearly has.

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Housley is learning from one of the top coaches in hockey in Peter Laviolette, and is expected to be a candidate for the remaining coaching vacancies when the Predators’ season ends.

New York must be the first team to pounce on Housley when that happens. When the puck drops in October and a new Rangers season begins, it must be Housley to lead the way. The opportunity is rare and promising.