Seems like just yesterday the New York Rangers were on the ice for the Stanley Cup Final, but three months move so quickly and today coach Alain Vigneault starts another season, which hopefully ends with hockey in June again.
However, this Ranger team is very different that the one that left the ice in defeat to the Los Angeles Kings and the coach knows it.
“I think you understand that each group, each season is a different team, it’s a different opportunity because new pieces get added on,” Vigneault said to reporters in Greenburgh. “I think what we all try to do is we learn from our experiences, it makes everybody stronger individually and collectively. But you have to turn the page on what’s happened in the past and focus on the now.”
The big question coming into camp is who will be the 27th Rangers captain. The smart money is on Ryan McDonagh, who became an elite defenseman during the Cup run.
Yet, the coach isn’t so quick to name one. In fact, he is probably going to wait until October 9th in St. Louis when the Rangers open the season.
“If I was a betting man, at the end of training camp,” said Vigneault. “I think that all teams have a core leadership group and it’s not up to just one individual, it’s not up to just the captain to be the leader, it has to be a group effort. I see in our team I see some real strong possibilities as far as being captain but I also think because this is a new year and because we’ve changed some pieces to the puzzle I want to see how things unfold during training camp. Captain will be named before the first game of the regular season.”
Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis were captains before and Marc Staal and Dan Girardi have been assistant captains on the Rangers, so there is some experience there.
Vigneault did go into what he is looking for in a captain: ““I would say first one that comes to mind is the power to influence. A captain of a team has to have the power to influence players in the right direction by his example by the way he conducts himself he also obviously has to be able to regroup the troops and he is an extension with his assistants he’s an extension of the coaching staff. The core values and the standards that we’re trying to establish when we’re not in the room, they’re the ones that are pushing that. They’re making sure everybody on our team does it the right way and that’s what we’re basically looking for if you’re looking for a quick resume on that.”
Other than that, Vigneault is looking to start fresh with this team. No job is safe, except for Henrik Lundqvist, and last year will just be a memory.
“There is a clean slate, meaning that the roles and the lines and the duos that worked last year might not necessarily work this year,” he said. “So that’s why you have training camp to take the opportunity to try a couple of different experiences to see how those experiences work out. To tell you the truth, if you look at our season last year, and I’m trying to turn the page and focus on this year, we didn’t get our things together until after Christmas. We didn’t get our lines together we didn’t get the roles and the way that players fit properly until around Christmas. I’m confident that this year because I know the group more, because I know the players more that we should be able to get it done before and that’s something that should help us to have a better start.”
Players take the ice tomorrow and the first pre-season game will be Monday against the Devils at Madison Square Garden.