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Thread: Rangers’ Coaching Options Now That Vigneault Is Axed

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    Rangers’ Coaching Options Now That Vigneault Is Axed

    Sheldon Keefe, AHL, Toronto Marlies

    If I were personally tasked with this charge, Keefe would likely be my coach of choice. The 37-year-old boss of the AHL-best Toronto Marlies has done great work in building and coaching the Marlies to contention. His coaching style, which doesn’t just account for, but values analytics, also puts a premium on adjusting for variables – strength of opponent, schedule, and others. This element alone would be in stark contrast to Vigneault’s rigid philosophy that rarely, if ever, made room for modification.

    Keefe’s influence over the Marlies has been remarkable. Not only do they lead the AHL in points (114) and winning percentage (.750) this season, but this is the second time in three years he’s achieved this feat. He’s also overseen the strong development of numerous youngsters turned NHLers like William Nylander, Zach Hyman, Connor Brown, Nikita Soshnikov, and Kasperi Kapanen.

    Given the likelihood that the Rangers’ average roster age is about to drop, perhaps precipitously, as they enter the first full season of their rebuild, Keefe’s ability to work with and get the most out of young talent can’t be overstated and is arguably his strongest selling point when juxtaposed with Vigneault, whose best performances came on the backs of veteran-strong rosters.
    Jim Montgomery, NCAA, University of Denver

    Montgomery, 47, has already flirted with the idea of an NHL promotion over the last few years. The University of Denver coach, who won the men’s Division I title last year, actually withdrew his candidacy for the then-vacant Florida Panthers coaching position before Bob Boughner was hired. Before that, he interviewed with the Los Angeles Kings before they hired Jon Stevens to replace Darryl Sutter last April.

    “From the onset of our search Jim Montgomery was at the top of our list and it is an absolute pleasure to welcome him to the Pioneer family,” said Peg Bradley-Doppes, Vice Chancellor for Athletics and Recreation, when Denver announced the hiring. “Jim has all of the attributes needed to successfully take the reins of our hockey program – a commitment to excellence, integrity and superb hockey acumen to name just a few. He has won at every level and most importantly, he has comported himself with class and dignity at every stop.

    Through his first four years with the Pioneers, Montgomery has coached to a 102-47-18 overall record. His 2015-16 team made the NCAA Frozen Four, and the following year he took home an NCAA National Championship.
    Bill Peters, NHL, Carolina Hurricanes

    The current coach of the Carolina Hurricanes, who have missed the playoffs for an eighth straight year, is believed to own an out clause that could allow him the opportunity to continue his coaching career elsewhere should he choose to.

    From another year gone by without a playoff berth to all-things-new owner Bill Dundon, to the opportunity to coach the New York Rangers, there’s a plethora of potential reasons why he might opt to enact it. Should he decide to, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, he is expected to have roughly one week following the end of the Canes’ season to do so.
    Peters is also unique in that he doesn’t subscribe to conservative hockey values and beliefs. Not only does he value analytics, but as he admitted to Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek and ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski on an old episode of the now-defunct Marek vs. Wyshynski podcast, his line to his analytics department—lead by Eric Tulsky, who he routinely speaks with—was direct.

    This, too, would be in rather stark contrast to what the Rangers have been used to under AV, who, if he valued analytics at all, did so with respect to his own myopic, esoteric renditions of them that somehow allowed him to glean positive values where none likely existed in reality. The Rangers, after all, were dead-last in the league this year in 5-on-5 Corsi-for percentage (CF%, 45.9), Corsi-against (CA, 4,163), and expected goals against (xGA, 186.5). They were also fifth-worst in CF% last season (47.9), and the season prior (47.39).
    https://thehockeywriters.com/rangers...gneault-fired/

    --

    There's also BU's David Quinn, Wisconsin's Tony Granato, and Union College's Rick Bennett to consider. I'd stay well away from retreads at this point.

    For my money, this should be Keefe's job to lose. I don't think it can be understated how important the ability to work with, and relate to young players is going to be. Especially if any attempts to accelerate the rebuild—Tavares, Karlsson, Kovalcuk, or otherwise—don't come to fruition. Barring that, Peters would be next best in my list.
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    The 4 best CF teams missed the playoffs. The team with the worst CF is in.

    I wouldn't mind someone in the front office with a big-picture understanding of these metrics.

    Behind the bench...should not be a requirent or even a prerequisite. Someone with a feel for the game that's in front of him and someone who's actually willing to "coach" young players should be the choice here.

    Also...The next coach of this team and the next coach to win a Cup with these team might not be the same person.

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    I'm not going to turn this into a referendum on analytics. They're clearly a factor worth accounting for. We can disagree to the high heavens about just how heavily, but to summarily dismiss them is just as bad, if not worse, than those who only account for them.

    I do agree with your last point completely, though. Especially if this turns into a traditional rebuild.
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    I'm not saying they shouldn't be accounted for. I'm saying they shouldn't be accounted for by the coach. A coach can't be someone who's SOLELY tied to spreadsheets.

    Let the people building the team be worried about how important those numbers may or may not be. Let the coach coach the team he's given.

    There's not a coach in the game today who's not playing matchups. That's the extent analytics should go. What zone do you start these guys in, and who do you play them against. Every coach is looking at this stuff.

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    Why would you account for analytics if your head coach ignores them? Talk about futility. Of course the coach should account for them. Anyone with direct impact on the game played on the ice should. Along with every other relevant piece of information they can get their hands on to improve the product.


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    Coaches have one job, and the front office has another. They aren't the same job. You must have missed the part where I said the front office should be building the team based on one set of data, and the coach of the team should be coaching it based on different data.

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    I'm really curious why you think that would lead to better results than having your FO and coaching staff on the same page regarding all data (advanced to whatever degree you like)?


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    Well you're falling into the same trap you've always created for yourself with analytics. You refuse to see the million shades of grey.

    Because I said a coach's primary concern should be teaching the game, and syatems, and coaching the team he has...not what someone's Fenwick close is ... You immediately assume that means he and the FO won't "be on the same page".

    This is why these debates go sideways. You want black and white when there is none.

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    Rangers’ Coaching Options Now That Vigneault Is Axed

    I'm with you the whole way, colloquially. You lose me when you suggest that, at least as I understand it, the coach deliberately NOT account for any specific criteria in putting together his lineups and coaching strategies because they would fall outside the boundaries of traditional analysis.

    Which stats, exactly, should he or she ignore? oZS and dZS are considered advanced by Hockey-Reference. Should they not be accounted for?

    I just don't see the value, at all, in essentially wanting a coach who refuses information that could help him/her in creating a competitive advantage. Like wanting a President who rejects the experts because he thinks he's a great judge of character.


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    Rangers’ Coaching Options Now That Vigneault Is Axed

    Back on topic, I linked to an interesting story on Keefe in the article that also highlights something important if he's Gorton's target:

    Keefe has shown he’s not afraid of getting into it with more experienced players, too. Netminder Calvin Pickard, a key part of the Marlies’ success, knows that first-hand. Pickard, who has NHL experience, drew his coach’s ire last month. Frustrated by a non-call when the other team scored, the goalie turned his net upside down. Replays showed he was correct in arguing there were too many men on the ice when the goal was scored, but Keefe still pulled him.

    The two met afterwards: Keefe made his point, Pickard made his, and the two moved on.

    As much as Keefe has a stern side, he realizes there must also be a buffer. That’s why the coaching staff and Dubas anointed veterans Ben Smith, Colin Greening and Rich Clune as the leadership group.
    https://www.thestar.com/sports/leafs...de-to-nhl.html

    --

    This style would be something of a hybrid of AVs leave-it-to-the-room style and what Brooks has been driving home on for a few months regarding the need for more fiery/vocal leadership.


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    I think it's more like I don't care what kind of paper clips the office buys because I have faith they've invested in the best paper clips.

    Because my job isn't to buy the paper clips. It's my job to get the most out of them.

    Now if the paper clips suck, I'll let management know that they're not working for me and why.

    But buying the clips will still never be my job so the tensile strength of a paper clip isn't my main concern.

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    OK, I understand that, but I'm not quite sure it's directly analogous. to use the office analogy, analytics/data would be more a kin to specific software. You could manage in Quark just fine, I'd imagine, but why would you not want InDesign knowing it's industry standard?

    And why wouldn't you want your manager to know that, and care about it? Wouldn't he/she do their job better having that understanding and appreciating the devils in the details?


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    Well yea...but same deal. I'm not in procurement. It's my job to do the best work I can in Quark. But my job is to design not to buy software.

    But I do think we're seeing each other's POV, at any rate.

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    For sure. I'm just really interested in a streamlined approach, but I also wouldn't really argue that analytics is a prerequisite for the next coach. I would argue that someone who outwardly rejects them, however, is probably not the best option. Not specifically because I think they are revelatory, but because I bristle at the idea that someone thinks they know the answers so they reject new information, you know?
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    Yes, not rejecting them.

    But also not doling out time based on Corsi, right?

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    Yup. Specifically, because corsi is often a byproduct of environmental conditions. Clendening, for example, was clearly never a top-pairing defender despite having analytics numbers in line with other league-leaders.

    But I do think you can use some of that information to help you craft better lines. Like how Hayes, Miller, and Grabner became deadly last season playing sheltered minutes early on.
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    It’s always hard for me to do this, but Pete is right about everything he’s stated in this thread. I’ve had conversations with hc’s and a president that is pretty similar to what Pete has posted here. In addition, people are still out there pumping out more analytics, but there are teams using them a little less now than they used to, or when they first started splash around.
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    "Analytics" is a poisonous term. I'd prefer we just refer to it as "data", because that's what it actually is. I doubt there many teams itching to use less of that.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil in Absentia View Post
    "Analytics" is a poisonous term. I'd prefer we just refer to it as "data", because that's what it actually is. I doubt there many teams itching to use less of that.
    Fair enough. Or as one guy called them a couple of years back “more stats”
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    I’m loving the fact that we have options now. AV-less Rangers = Options

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