Vigneault Playing Mind Games With Thomas; Maybe It Is The Other Way Around?


Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault continues to make a complete fool of himself, making one wonder if he is really equipped to handle the stress of being a big-time NHL coach. WEEI’s “Big Bad Blog” reported today that Vigneault complained to the NHL about the way Boston goalie Tim Thomas plays his position.

According to WEEI’s D.J. Bean, Vigneault said, “We’ve asked the league, obviously. Part of Thomas’ way of playing is playing out of the blue paint, initiating contact, roaming out there. He seems to think that once he’s out, he’s set and makes the save, that he can go directly back in his net without having anybody behind him. That’s wrong. He’s got the wrong rule on that.

“If we’re behind him, then that’s our ice. We’re allowed to stay there. We’ve talked to the NHL about that. We’ve talked to the NHL about him initiating contact, like he did on Hank, and they’re aware of it. Hopefully they’re going to handle it.”

This is the second time Vigneault has complained about Thomas. He also did after Game 1 when Alexandre Burrows was called for tripping Thomas.

In addition, the contact with “Hank” occurred in the crease — somewhere where Sedin should not be.

I asked a number of USA Hockey officials for how they would interpret the rule, and all said if a player interferes with a goalie getting back to his crease, it is a penalty. I would say that if the contact is incidental and outside the crease, then it is not a penalty. However, if a player refuses to allow the goalie to pass, or trips him as Burrows did, it is clearly a penalty.

I am sure Vigneault believes he can get into Thomas’ head with these mind games, but obviously he has not done his homework. Thomas thrives on stuff like this – people doubting or questioning him, or trying to tell him how to play his position. Someone who knew his opponent would know that, and not buy into that person’s strength.

One would think Vigneault would spend more time getting his team to quit biting others or laying dirty hits, but apparently, a goalie playing a few feet out of his crease is his biggest concern.

On second thought, maybe he should figure out a way to get the puck past Thomas, rather than worrying about where Thomas is on the ice.

Time will tell if Vigneault made the right decision. Maybe he will get in Thomas’ head, but it looks to me like Thomas is already in Vigneault’s head.