AV detractors can point to Eric Staal as the best example of misusing a player

E. Staal (Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Eric Staal returns to MSG tonight to face Alain Vigneault and the Rangers. He does so after helping the Wild win their 9th straight by scoring the game winning goal…shorthanded. Staal leads the Wild with 11 goals and 26 points in 32 games, 3 more points than the Rangers leading scorer, Kevin Hayes in 3 less games.

Eric Staal Deadline Acquisition…Failure

“He’s an elite center,” GM, Jeff Gorton said after acquiring him for second-round picks in 2016 and 2017, along with prospect Aleksi Saarela. He also added that, “we’re going to get a lot out of him.”

Well, if 6 points in 20 games was Gorton’s idea of a lot…he was wrong. To make matters worse, Staal posted a -7 with 0 points in the Rangers 5 game elimination to the Penguins. A complete and total bust of a trade by anybody’s standards.

What went wrong? In all honesty, after seeing his performance so far this year, it’s hard not to point to Alain Vigneault’s utilization.

AV Misuse

Staal presser (NYR)

Right off the bat, as soon as he was acquired I envisioned Eric Staal centering Rick Nash and leading the Rangers to glory. Instead, we got Eric Staal mostly playing 3rd line wing with Kevin Hayes???

During his brief stint here, Staal played 325 minutes in a Blueshirt. He only spent 30:44 with Rick Nash 5 on 5. Matter of fact, he spent the most time with Kevin Hayes (153:47) and Jesper Fast (90:22). While Hayes is playing excellent hockey this year, he struggled mightily last year, and Fast in not a top 6 forward.

P.S. The 3rd highest forward with 77:34 even strength minutes…Viktor Stalberg. See the problem!

In all fairness, AV even admitted to reporters he wasn’t using Eric properly, “I haven’t put him in ideal situations, it’s my fault. I’ve been moving personnel around trying to find the right chemistry with the lines.” Sadly, he never corrected this situation.

Staal’s Parting Shot

On breakup day, Eric Staal pretty much consigned himself to not returning.

Obviously frustrated with the way Alain Vigneault chose to use him and limit his play, he voiced his opinion. In his short tenure here he averaged just a little over 16 minutes of ice per game. That is almost 4 minutes less than his career average and over 3 minutes less than how the Wild are using him today.

While I believe AV is a great coach that has done a lot of things right…this is certainly one time he got it all wrong.



  • Anthony,
    I haven’t r ever read a more truthful, consise statement than in your last paragraph!
    The absolute golden truth!!
    Just proves that we’re all human- none of us is perfect!

  • If AV had Ovi he would not produce. AV had the Sedin twins and a lot of good players and couldn’t win he is just a shitty coach that will never win the cup.

    • Islander fan?

    • I’ll ask you again, yet you will most likely duck the question once again. Who would you have coaching the rangers rather than AV?

      Only a few select coaches become cup winners, so I guess innovators like Roger Neilson suck too?

      • I would take a chance on Gallant or Keenan (if he is available)

        • Gerald Gallant who was just fired by the Panthers? How many cups does he have? How many playoff games has he won in the last 3 yrs? Exactly what has he done that makes him a better choice than AV?

          Mike Keenan is in his early 70’s, he’s done. At the last time he coached the Rangers he was trying to get another job while his team was in the middle of playoff in the Cup finals. Keenan, took him 3 chances to finally win his cup, so he too sucked.

          No matter who the coach is half of the fans aren’t going to like his use of players. Keenan got crucified for benching Leetch during the Devil series and made up an injury to rationalize his decision to the media.

          AV has done nothing but put this team in the right direction. He had molded young players to become integral parts moving forward. He lost to the Kings who were at the end of the run of cups in his 1st yr. Lost in game 7 of the conference finals in a game McD couldn’t play due to injury and then lost to the cup winners last yr. And you want to take a chance with Gerald Gallant?

  • AV misused Staal greatly last season. That being said, I think AV likes to have 3 scoring lines so he doesn’t have to rely on the top 6 so much.

  • The idea that AV is a “great” coach is so far from the truth that it’s laughable. This is one of the great myths disseminated by the Rangers media & bloggers alike.

  • AV is NOT a great coach. Year after year he admits that his inability to settle down the lines is a problem yet he never changes. As soon as a line has a bad game he starts mixing everything up the following game. As the season wears on you can see the play change from one that looks very smooth to very sloppy. As he changes up the lines the players get less and less comfortable with their line mates. Watch a game from the first 15 or so and you will see nice crisp passes right to where the receiving player is going to be. This results in good break outs and scoring chances on the rush. But since then a majority of the passes are off target or mishandled. The break outs look horrible. Every team will juggle lines a little as players get injured or go into slumps but AV way over juggles the lines. It’s a problem.

    • rob EVERY coach juggles their lines. This happens with every team regardless of the record. Just look up and see how many wingers Crosby has played with already this year.

      You says its a problem, yet his teams in NY have finished 1st in the league, gone to 2 conference finals, a Stanley cup final and eclipsed the 100 point mark twice. Can you name a rangers coach who was more successful in his 1st yrs than AV?

  • Quite honestly, who cares about Eric Staal. Most rangers fans were upset about that move last yr, he didn’t fit in with this lineup and was nothing short of an embarrassment in the playoffs.

    He want brought here to play 1st line minutes, he was brought here to help with scoring depth. His play had tanked to near rock bottom levels when the Hurricanes traded him. There were numerous articles in different hockey publications saying how he shouldn’t even been getting the minutes he was with the lowly ‘Canes.

    The insessant bashing if AV has nearly reached clinical levels. 1st he bashed because Tanner Glass was playing on the 4th line. Today he’s bashed because the team is too soft and the same fans who bashed him for playing Glass not want Glass back in the lineup. At the end of last year fans wanted to get more skilled, today they are bashing him because this team plays to much of a skill game. You can’t make it up. Is AV the best coach in the league? No, but there isn’t to many better than him right now in the game. And look at the Rangers history of coaches, other than Herb Brooks, Emile Francis, Lester Patrick and Mike Keenan’s lone year name a coach who was better. I dare someone name a coach this franchise had that has had a better 3 year plus run than him.

    The Rangers have made mistakes in trades, drafts and in signing yet throughout that AV has had this team at the top of the leagues standings. A Stanley cup finals appearance, 2 conference finals, one of the leagues best road team in last few years and a team that is near the top in wins in both regular season and playoffs since he got here. He should be getting accolades from the fans not pity bs because he didn’t use Eric Staal the right way. Longtime ranger fans who had to live through years of Tom Webster, John Muckler, Brian Trottier, Ron Low, Phil Esposito, Michel Bergeron, Ted Sator and other low lights value what AV has done for this franchise. Once he is gone, fans will moan for a coach that was as successful as AV.

We would love your thoughts! Comment Please!