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11-06-2003, 06:08 PM
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I thought Vigneault was a decent coach.

He matched up lines well, implemented a system and got the players to play it--for the most part. But as has been mentioned ad nauseum, his Habs team was plagued by injuries and a severe lack of talent. Players like Weinrich, Darby and Poulin were depended upon quite heavily.

I don't think Vigneault used his players to the best of their abilities though. He was often criticized for being too polished; in that he was a nice guy, well spoken, knew how to handle the media, but lacked some character and emotion that fans, media (and sometimes players) like to see.

And despite Montreal having a larger team at that time, there wasn't any bite to their game. Players like Stevenson and Thornton skated through the motions in Montreal, playing a skating system which didn't suit their games, and they wound up being largely ineffective. Both were given up for very little, and went on to become key character players for contending clubs.

It's hard to say how well Vigneault communicated and developed the youth. There wasn't any youth for Vigneault to develop. I don't think Vigneault worked well with Asham and Brad Brown, who were basically the only youth to come through the system that were worthy (in my opinion) of having a shot with the club.

The team's fitness level as a whole was subpar leading to injuries (as well as leading to Asham's trade IMO, since his fitness level was subpar generally in Montreal), but I felt this was more of a result of having a rookie management staff combined with a rookie coaching staff. Still, this should be something that Vigneault could have pinpointed and addressed during off-season training schedules for his players.

So all in all, Vigneault got a lot of mileage out of minor league players, but seemingly lacked any character or emotion which was shown on the ice. Young players weren't developed properly -- but this was a problem for the organization as a whole, not merely Vigneault. He knows how to implement a system, and the technical aspects of the game, but he's unproven as far as developing youth or being a winner is concerned.

As far as what Vigneault's done lately: from what I saw last season of the Rockets in the QMJHL, he had implemented a stronger unity among players and got players moving the puck faster and playing a stronger system. I'd look to see at what he can do on the minor league level before bringing him up to an NHL job though.

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