Coach Alain Vigneault borrowed a key phrase from "Apollo 13," one of his favorite movies, when he assessed the New York Rangers on Thursday, one day before the opening of training camp.
"There are two phrases in that movie that sort of caught my attention," Vigneault told Blueshirts United. "One of them is, 'Failure is not an option,' when they've got to find a way to bring the astronauts back. That's sort of us. That was sort of us going into last year, and that's sort of us going into this year.
"We believe that we have a team that has the elements to win the Stanley Cup. We firmly believe that, so failure is not an option."
The other involved the appraisal of the mission, one that failed to reach the moon but did not result in a loss of life as "a successful failure," a phrase he said helped him deal with the disappointment of a 2-0 home loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final last spring. That loss prevented the Rangers from returning to the Stanley Cup Final.
"From a coaching standpoint, what you are trying to do is to get the most that you can out of your personnel," Vigneault said. "You want them to play to the best of their capabilities. When we have our team with three of our top defensemen play throughout most of the playoffs [seriously hurt] and all the other little things, then they're putting it on the line for us, they're putting it on the line for the Rangers fans. They want to win."
The Rangers won the Presidents' Trophy last season with 113 points but have not won the Stanley Cup since 1994. Vigneault, entering his third season behind the bench in New York, feels they could end that drought this season.
"I believe with the motivation this group has, the work ethic and competitive nature this group has, we're here to win a Cup," he said.
The Rangers begin on-ice testing Friday and will practice Saturday and Sunday before hosting the New Jersey Devils in their preseason opener Monday.
Vigneault said four players will delay their on-ice testing until next week, though the Rangers are not worried about any of them. Defensemen Marc Staal and Dan Girardi each had ankle surgery in June, captain Ryan McDonagh avoided surgery but is recovering from a broken foot, and forward Mats Zuccarello recently received a shot in his ankle for what Vigneault called "an old injury."
Zuccarello has recovered from the head injury sustained in the first round of the playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins and said last week it's "no issue."