In today's briefing, on freshly-cut grass inside a white tent outside the Rangers practice complex in Westchester that made it almost seem like a summer concert or reception, head coach Alain Vigneault was asked how he remains so calm and collected, as players describe him.
And he told this story:
"I started coaching when I was 23 years old; I went back to school after my brilliant 42-game NHL career, and it was my way to give something back to the game. I probably was a bit more emotional when I started to coach, then I sort of figured it out; you get more experience, you figure things out. You understand when it’s time and when it’s not time. This team, I got to know them, they got to know me.
It might sound stupid, but I always -- for a 7 o'clock game, 6:30 warmups -- at 6 o'clock, my teams always shut the music off in the dressing room. I did the same thing here and after a couple exhibition games, a couple guys come in and see me, and said 'we’re not used to this', so I said 'OK, we’ll go to 6:15.' After a couple weeks, couple more guys said "Listen, we’d like to play the music till warmups start.'
And I said, 'OK, fine, if that’s how you’re going to get into your zone, go ahead and do it'. You’ve got to understand where your players are coming from, each player has to be handled differently and it takes a little bit of time."
Asked who were the players carrying the request, Vigneault recalled:
"The first guy who came to see me was Dan (Girardi) and I think he was doing it for Hank (laughter from all)...or so he said."
And the music's still playing...