For all the knocks on Flyers’ new head coach Alain Vigneault, he has proven one thing: He has improved his new team every single time he took the helm. From Montreal in the late ’90s to the most recent New York Rangers, Vigneault has improved his team from the year prior.
Let’s take a look at the records. Vigneault took over the Habs in 1997. The year prior, under Mario Tremblay, Montreal only posted 77 points. Vigneault took over, and they put up 10 more, even making it into the second round of the playoffs before being bounced by the Buffalo Sabres.
Delving even further into Montreal’s turnaround, Vigneault took a powerplay that was previously ranked 13th in the league the year prior and turned it into the third-best unit in the NHL the very next year. He took a league-worst penalty kill and got it to 16th in the league, a vast improvement from 79.54% to 84.54%.
When AV took the job with the Vancouver Canucks, he took over a team, previously coached by Marc Crawford, from 92 points and no playoffs to 105 points and a second-round exit to the eventual Stanley Cup champions, the Anaheim Ducks.
Under Vigneault, the powerplay slid from its time with Crawford from 11th to 20th, but the penalty kill went from an 81.84% efficiency rating to an 86.93% efficiency rating, jumping from 17th best in the NHL to the best penalty-killing unit in all of the NHL in 2007.
Vigneault came into New York, taking over for longtime Rags bench boss John Tortorella. Torts had coached the Rangers to a 56 point campaign during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, and a second-round appearance in the playoffs as well. Vigneault came in, and his first Rangers crew amassed 96 points during the regular season. He then took the Rags on a run to the Stanley Cup Finals, only to fall to the Los Angeles Kings.
During the 2013-14 regular season, Vigneault took a powerplay previously ranked 23rd the year prior and took it to 15th in the league. Again, he inherited a mediocre-at-best penalty killing unit (15th in the NHL), and turned it into the 3rd best penalty-killing unit in the NHL, killing off 85.34% of all penalties that year.
If fans can look forward to anything with Vigneault coming in, it could possibly be his knack for icing some pretty solid penalty killing units. The powerplay can use some help as well, finishing 23rd this past season in the league, but with the addition of Kevin Hayes, it appears the powerplay could be on the rise.
Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports