GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Maybe the shock of Alain Vigneault’s firing late Saturday night had worn off, and the Rangers had all come to terms with GM Jeff Gorton’s decision to make a coaching change.
But at breakup day Tuesday, the players who visited the locker room and spoke to the media seemed relatively matter-of-fact about losing their coach of the last five years.
“I guess it’s part of it, right?’’ said forward Chris Kreider, who was a rookie when John Tortorella was let go and replaced by Vigneault. “I went through that early in my career, with the other coaching staff. You say the same thing when guys get traded, it’s part of it, it’s a business.’’
Though he said he had grown close to the coaching staff, especially associate coach Scott Arniel, Kreider said there’s a “weird kind of ‘butterfly,’ excited feeling,’’ that the team will be getting a new coaching staff.
Second-year defenseman Brady Skjei, who said he thought Vigneault “did a good job,’’ also looked ahead, saying, “I think it’ll be nice to get a new face in here; new energy.’’
And while veteran Mats Zuccarello said it was “sad’’ to see Vigneault, Arniel and assistant coach Darryl Williams go, he chose to look ahead.
“It’s nothing that you can control, and you just focus on the team next year coming into camp,’’ Zuccarello said. “New year, positive year, a lot of young guys, and hopefully some new guys. It’s gonna be pretty good.’’
Zuccarello wants to remain
Zuccarello is one of the players whose return is uncertain, as GM Jeff Gorton figures to be active over the summer, continuing the reshaping of the roster that he began with the selloff of veterans at the February trading deadline. But Zuccarello said he hopes to be back.
“If I’m here next year or not, that’s not up to me, but hopefully I am, and I got one more year on my deal,’’ he said. “But I feel good, and I’m ready to go for next season.’’
Kreider, Zibanejad to Worlds
Only Kreider (USA) and linemate Mika Zibanejad (Sweden) are confirmed to be going to the World Championships, to be held May 4-20 in Denmark. Skjei said he is not going, forward Kevin Hayes said he wasn’t sure yet, and Gorton said Monday that teenage forwards Lias Andersson (Sweden) and Filip Chytil (Czech Republic) were asked.