Alain Vigneault read the news on Thursday, oh boy, about Joe Girardi being told to scram by the Yankees after 10 years as manager.
Let me start by saying that I dont know anything about baseball but being in this business so long, I do know something about what he must be going through, the Blueshirts coach told The Post on Friday before his teams flight to Montreal in advance of Saturdays match with the Canadiens. But this was supposed to be a transition year, he came one win away from the World Series, Im sure that being there for 10 years he wanted to get the opportunity to finish the job with that group, and instead the organization told him they want to go in a new direction.
I can put myself in his shoes and really feel the pain hes going through. But one thing I understand is the business part of it. As much as Id like to say I dont, I do.
It thus follows that Vigneault previously fired in Montreal after three-plus seasons behind the Habs bench and in Vancouver after seven seasons as the Canucks coach that included back-to-back Presidents Trophies and a trip to the Cup final recognizes how tenuous a job can become when a team with championship aspirations starts the season 2-6-2 or 3-6-2, for that matter.
I understand the reality, but it doesnt affect me or the way I go about my job at all, Vigneault, whose contract runs through 2019-20 at north of $4 million per season. I dont worry about what people are speculating. If you need something about my [job status], you have to talk to my general manager.
Would it were so simple; a request to speak with GM Jeff Gorton on Friday was rejected by Senior VP of PR John Rosasco. Gorton has not publicly addressed the state of the team since the season began. That was left to the coach.
If I try to spin 3-6-2 from a positive angle, its that a start like this allows the coaching staff to get players attention where we can really focus on areas that need improvement from an individual and team standpoint, Vigneault said. A couple of years ago, when we started [14-2-2 in 2015-16], that was all Hank [Lundqvist], and so when wed show video, our record made it more difficult to get the message across.
Thats the positive spin. And I think were better than our record, but we are what our record is. The truth is theres nothing positive about 3-6-2.
But Vigneault is positive there are better days ahead for this group that is coming off Thursdays 5-2 victory over the Coyotes when a defeat to the leagues only winless team (0-9-1) might have been enough to land him in the same soup as Girardi.
My opinion and expectations of this group have not changed, Vigneault said. But were still trying to find an identity here. People might say, 10 games and you still dont know? But its difficult. Were trying to sort things out.
Weve brought in younger guys to mix with older guys, and we have new guys finding their places and their roles. Its not as simple as it may seem, but I believe we have real good leadership and a room where everyone cares about getting better.
We never quit. Guys battle back hard, said Vigneault, who staying with hot hat Ondrej Pavelec in goal Saturday following Thursdays victory. We push hard and we compete.
Vigneault alluded to his first year behind the Rangers bench in which the club started 3-7 and was stuck at 16-18-2 deep into December before going on their run to the 2014 Cup final.
Ive been through challenging starts in my career, he said. This has been one, but I can say that the players are staying together and focusing on the process of getting better. Plus, the entire organization from the owner to the GM to the staff, is operating as one. Were all in this together.
I still believe were a real good team. I definitely believe were going to make the playoffs. Were going through a bump here, but the players are sticking together. Were going to be better for this. I honestly believe that.