Alain Vigneault has Rangers focused on closing out Flyers
The philosopher George Santayana famously wrote those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.
And the Rangers know it.
Heading into Tuesday night’s Game 6 of the Metropolitan Division semifinal series against the Flyers, the Rangers hold a 3-2 lead. With a win, they can advance to the division finals against either the Blue Jackets or Penguins.
“It’s an opportunity for us to move on to the next round,” head coach Alain Vigneault said.
But a loss will send the Rangers and Flyers back to the Garden for Game 7 Wednesday night. This group is intimately familiar with Game 7s, having played in three do-or-die games the last two springs. The Rangers won all three Game 7s.
“There’s not a player in that room that doesn’t [want to win and advance], so they’re going to be fine,” Vigneault said. “[We're] trying to get our guys to focus and concentrate on the right things. [We're] trying to make sure they execute. That’s not going to change.
“There’s this theory that the last [playoff game to win in order to advance] is the hardest. It’s probably true because it permits you to move on, so there’s probably more desperation from both teams; the team that can end their [opponent's] season and the team [that] wants to pursue their season.”
Francis steps in
The Hurricanes introduced Ron Francis as the franchise’s new general manager in a press conference Monday. Francis replaces Jim Rutherford, who will serve as an advisor.
“Based on Jim’s decision to step down as GM, now is a good time to go in a new direction,” Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos said in a statement. “Ron has dedicated himself to learning all aspects of running a hockey team in the past eight years, working in player development, on the coaching staff and in hockey operations. He has proven that he has the work ethic and passion to get the Hurricanes back into the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“I am happy that Jim will retain a role with our team, and I thank him for his 20 years as our general manager. He leaves quite a legacy with our organization, bringing the team three divisional championships, two conference titles and the Stanley Cup.”
A Hall-of-Famer player, the promotion of Francis to general manager from director of hockey operations is part of an organizational restructuring for a franchise that last qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2008-09. The Hurricanes announced Brian Tatum and Mike Vellucci were hired as assistant general managers. Vellucci will also serve as director of hockey operations.
Around the league …
» The Islanders announced defenseman Loic Leduc agreed to a three-year, entry-level contract. Selected in the fourth round of the 2012 draft, Leduc recorded 15 points (six goals and nine assists) in 63 combined games with Cape Breton and Rimouski of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
» The NHL announced Zdeno Chara, Duncan Keith and Shea Weber as finalists for the Norris Trophy.
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.