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Vigneault Never More Driven Than Now With Rangers

Coach reacts to extension with the Blueshirts

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

Despite passing the 1,100 games coached mark, Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault says his desire to win is stronger than ever.

"I feel I've never been more driven than I am at this point," Vigneault told the media Tuesday morning after the team announced it and the bench boss had agreed to a contract extension. 

"The Rangers, Original Six (team), you don't get much better than this," he added.

Vigneault is now in his fourth season behind the Rangers' bench having taken the job prior to the 2013-14 season. In that time, the Rangers are third in the NHL in wins with 175. He leads all Rangers head coaches in points percentage - minimum of 100 games coached - at .632. 

Most importantly, the team has thrived under Vigneault's leadership, reaching the 2014 Stanley Cup Final and following it up with a Presidents' Trophy and a trip back to the Eastern Conference Final the following season.

Vigneault, though, said he knows more is needed from him, his staff and his players in their chase for the franchise's first Stanley Cup since 1994, as well as the first of his storied coaching career.

"I really believe in empowering my staff and empowering my players and giving them the direction that they need to do their job," Vigneault said. "When you do it and you do it the right way, it's a good environment. It's an environment where you can grow. It's an environment where you can have success and hopefully win. My teams have won. They haven't won that one game, but I'm working my butt off to do it."

Vigneault said the organization's strong collection of young players like J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes, Brady Skjei and more, as well as his relationship with the front office factored into his decision to keep calling New York home.

"I gave [an extension] a lot of thought and I feel with the young kids that we're bringing in - whatever you want to call it, the retooling - I believe we can win and compete in a very tough league," Vigneault said. "My relationships here with the people from [General Manager] Jeff [Gorton], who is obviously my immediate boss, to my staff, to [Executive Chairman, The Madison Square Garden Company] Jim Dolan who I get along with real well. It was a pretty easy decision as far as you're a coach and you want to have a chance, (and) we've got a first class organization."

Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh has come into his own as one of the NHL's top defenders under Vigneault, and credited his coach for playing a big role in his success.

"He's been great for my game since he's joined the Rangers and done a lot of great things over the years," McDonagh told reporters Tuesday. "Some deep playoff runs. I think if you ask him, I think he's hoping to accomplish that ultimate goal like us players. [The extension is] very well deserved and we're happy to have him with the organization."

Despire being behind the bench of an NHL team for the better part of the last two decades, the honor of the job has not worn off Vigneault.

"I've stayed humbled. I've taken my job very seriously but I don't think I've taken myself seriously," Vigneault said. "I know how privileged and fortunate I am to be in this position. There are only 30 jobs open. I'm working my butt off to win the ultimate thing."

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