Neil Best first worked at Newsday in 1982, then returned in 1985. His SportsWatch column debuted in 2005.
As former Hofstra lacrosse player Jon Cooper held court with reporters Sunday at the Garden, it quickly became clear that Alain Vigneault is about to lose his second consecutive series in the Coach's Quotability category -- in a blowout.
Granted, that is not quite as important as the fact that his Rangers beat Barry Trotz's Capitals in the last round and now lead Cooper's Lightning, 1-0, in the conference finals.
But it does illustrate a potentially helpful fact of Rangers life under Vigneault as they enter the homestretch of another lengthy playoff run.
Unlike a couple of his famously volatile predecessors, 1994 Stanley Cup winner Mike Keenan and 2012 conference finalist John Tortorella, AV is not into drama, either in front of reporters or behind the scenes.
The flashiest thing about him is his sideburns.
"He's a calm guy, for sure, never really raises his voice in here and is very steady in the way he approaches us and the game," goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said after practice. "I think it helps the team to stay on the course and keep the focus where it should be."
Said Rick Nash: "He's been the exact same as he is all year. He's a pretty calm guy."
Martin St. Louis added, "He's very, very calm, a pretty even-keeled guy."
Not that Vigneault is bashful about making bold moves when required.
During last year's Stanley Cup Final, he demoted Brad Richards to the fourth line. During this year's second round, he benched St. Louis, Richards' fellow former Cup winner with Tampa Bay.
During Game 1 of the conference finals, he smartly moved St. Louis off the top line in favor of Kevin Hayes.
Vigneault also is capable of raising his voice behind closed doors occasionally. He did so after an awful first period in Game 4 against the Penguins, then naturally refused to talk about it publicly.
Above all, he carries himself with the bearing of someone who has been there before, which he has.
The guy is a French-Canadian who coached the Canadiens when he was 36. He has won three Presidents' Trophies. He has been a finalist for the Jack Adams Award four times, including this season, and won it once.
Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh said of Vigneault: "He's got a real good read from game to game understanding adjustments needed within a series, within a team, and understanding where we can exploit great opportunities for ourselves and where we need to be real strong."
Vigneault twice has advanced to the Stanley Cup Final but never has won it all.
And he has shown no signs of being intimidated by the New York media and fan spotlight.
It helps not to be a novice.
I asked Vigneault, who turned 54 Thursday, whether having been down this road before helps him as a coach, and got a typically generic answer that included a "one game at a time" reference.
Not that there's anything wrong with that. Volatile and / or voluble coaches are good for journalists but not necessarily good for sustained playoff success.
"For us, the players and coaches, any time you go through playoff stretches, it just helps with your experience in how to handle the game," Vigneault said, "the highs and lows that come within a series and the focus and the commitment and hard work that is needed to take it one game at a time and just stay on that game.
"I think our team and our group of players are very mature and have understood that and are dealing with that the way they're supposed to."