Elliotte Friedman reported in his last “30 Thoughts” post that the Rangers are considering Lindy Ruff for an Assistant Coaching role.
In his most recent “30 Thoughts” post, Elliotte Friedman dropped a couple of tidbits regarding the New York Rangers. Friedman noted that Scott Arniel interviewed for a couple of Head Coaching vacancies, and that Lindy Ruff is in consideration for an Assistant Coaching role with New York.
Arniel has been an Assistant Coach for the New York Rangers since 2013, while Ruff coached the Dallas Stars from 2013-2017. Ruff was previously considered when the Rangers had a coaching vacancy of their own back in 2013.
Each bit of news requires its own breakdown. Let’s start with Scott Arniel.
Scott Arniel Must Go
While the preference here is for Alain Vigneault to get the ax, that appears unlikely at this time. With that in mind, someone must be let go after the horrendous exit to the Ottawa Senators this past postseason.
Though the majority of the blame lies on Vigneault for his poor late-game deployment, special teams was a tremendous issue for the Rangers as well. Scott Arniel runs the special teams for New York.
New York must make a change to ensure the 2017 postseason does not happen again, and Arniel deserves to be the scapegoat if Vigneault won’t be. While Friedman did not speak to if the Rangers are considering replacing Arniel, his interviewing for other roles is encouraging news to hear.
However, who could potentially replace him is less promising.
Lindy’s Lay of the Land
Admittedly, I first was upset by the Lindy Ruff news because I thought he could no longer handle the speed of today’s game. A veteran coach, Ruff would fit into the “outgrown by the game” category many fear. However, I was quickly told otherwise by FanRag Sports’ Carolyn Wilke, a Dallas Stars fan and expert. (I highly suggest reading her work)
"[Ruff is] one of the few coaches who has seemed willing to play rookies/younger players, and embraced a speedy possession-based game."
Promising, right? One of Alain Vigneault’s greatest weaknesses was his inability to match other teams’ possession games. Additionally, Vigneault failed to play Pavel Buchnevich over the likes of Tanner Glass and Brandon Pirri at times.
A Ruff Decision
However, another major issue of Vigneault’s, perhaps the biggest of all, was his love of his “guys” such as Dan Girardi, Nick Holden, and even Tanner Glass.
To that concern, Wilke spoke less glowingly of Ruff:
"He kept playing “his guys” even when they were proving ineffective."
While Alain Vigneault is unlikely to be swayed in any major way by an Assistant Coach, having his right hand man also wanting to stick to their guys creates plenty of concern. New York must have an Assistant Coach challenging Vigneault, not supporting the “my guys will get the job done despite what evidence has shown” line of thinking.
Many believe Jeff Beukeboom was a first step at getting past the “my guys” deployment method. Nick Holden and Marc Staal’s playing time in the postseason contradicted that notion. However, if Beukeboom understands the progressive line of thinking, perhaps another Assistant chirping in Vigneault’s ears can finally cause the coach to adapt.
Regardless, the Rangers are a young organization. There is room for a new, fresh hockey mind behind the bench. While Lindy Ruff provides a plethora of experience, he remains more likely to enable Alain Vigneault than to help push the coach in the right direction.
New York must bring in an up and comer for Assistant Coach. Lindy Ruff is not the right choice.