It’s a new era in New York. Not only is Alain Vigneault gone (and John Tortorella before him), but the Rangers have officially embarked on what some might call a rebuild (others might not, and that’s fine, but as we saw at the trade deadline there’s already been some major changes towards the future). Enter David Quinn. The now former BU coach is behind the bench for the Blueshirts and while some may have their (probably valid) criticisms, I think it’s a phenomenal hire. He’s a breath of fresh air and represents a total sea change as far as the mindset of this organization goes. If Jeff Gorton can convince Glenn Sather and James Dolan to get weird with it, then there’s a bridge I might just buy from him.
Going beyond the representative aspects of this hire though are the actual, ya know, coaching things. While Quinn may get a knock from some people for lacking in the X’s and O’s (which I’ll reserve judgement on until I actually see it for myself) there’s a few things buzzing around Quinn, many of which he’s said himself that have me excited. Most of these are from an interview he did on the Michael Kay show, but if you haven’t read his letter to the fan base that’s worth checking out as well. Without further ado, here’s David Quinn, in his own words.
“I know Shattenkirk, I know Hayes, I know Kreider … I know Brendan Smith”
This one is fairly notable because the shot across the bow as far as signaling a change in direction this season was the letter issued by Glenn Sather and Jeff Gorton, accompanied by some action to back it up – placing Brendan Smith on waivers. Despite this, there’s hope that Quinn can redeem the d-man who was expensive to require in terms of draft picks and represents a decent chunk of the Rangers’ salary cap. If Quinn can turn Smith into something worthwhile either for the team’s on-ice purposes or for a trade to recoup some assets that can only be a good thing.
“I think our job is to get the guys on a daily basis to improve guys individually and to improve guys collectively … I don’t want to put a time table on anything … but the goal is to build a Stanley Cup contender for the long haul”
Here’s a guy who knows that this team is in a transitory phase and has at least a loose plan for it. This comes in stark contrast to AV, who began to play game-to-game at the expense of the team’s overall health. From October onward we saw AV playing desperate, and it hurt guys’ development trajectories. Quinn, on the other hand, knows he needs to get the best out of his players first, and that while results might not come with that the overall health of the team in the long run is of paramount importance.
What does a Quinn-coached team mean?
“Defending doesn’t necessarily mean just what goes on in the defensive zone when we don’t have the puck in the offensive zone or in the neutral zone we want to make the other team uncomfortable, we want to make the other team uncomfortable, we want to get the puck back as quickly as possible, we want five man gaps”
This is another major contrast with Vigenault – Quinn plans on playing total hockey, not just “get breakaways and hope for the best” hockey. Of course any coach would likely say something like this if asked, but the fact that it’s at the forefront of his mind means it was something he knows was a problem in the past, and that he plans on rectifying. Again, the results might not be good, but the process will certainly be improving.
“He’s part of the solution”
This is pretty straight up, and kind of a softball question, but the lack of hesitancy here is reassuring. I don’t think I need to tell any of you all that he’s spot on here, because it goes without saying that this team is nowhere without Henrik Lundqvist.
Getting more out of young players:
“Well I think the key to any coach is to be demanding but fair in the same breath, and there’s got to be clarity on what’s expected of every player, you’ve got to know the personalities, every guy gets motivated differently, and with that comes spending time with your players and making them better and when you care about them they trust you and when that happens you’ve got a chance to develop”
Another major contrast with AV, and a testament to his strengths as he understands them. Maybe he isn’t great with the tactical aspects of the game, sure, but he knows his personal style is going to be of the utmost then. Relationships in many ways are just as important as strategy; these guys are pros and can stitch together plays out of nowhere, but if there’s not clear expectations, accountability, and positive relationships on all fronts then they’re simply not going to play their best. While AV certainly seemed aloof towards the end of his tenure, Quinn promises to be a different kind of man manager.
“Well I think the key to any coach is to be demanding but fair in the same breath, and theres got to be clarity on what’s expected of every player, you’ve got to know the personalities, every guy gets motivated differently, and with that comes spending time with your players and making them better and when you care about them they trust you and when that happens you’ve got a chance to develop”
This was pretty skillful by Quinn to thread the needle, because although he didn’t say this would be new-school hockey, and earlier in the interview emphasized playing a complete game, he’s certainly on board to do whatever it takes to win (within reason of course). He’s open to new ideas, he’s open to the tried and true, he’s open to whatever creates a positive, winning atmosphere. Going from a coach who blamed everyone but himself and couldn’t change his ways if his life (or actually, just his job really) depended on it, this is really just great to hear.
Dolan, Sather, and the entire organizational mindset:
“One of the things that really made this decision … I don’t want to say easy to me .. but the continuity … everyone was on the same page”
Here we’ve got what’s a great sign not just from Quinn, but from the Rangers top to bottom – they know they need to evolve to compete. This is a truly positive sign, because if they said “hey, let’s keep doing what we’re doing” then we’d devolve into the Oilers. That’s uh, not a team I’d enjoy watching, and it bodes well for this rebuild, retool, or reimagining of this team that everyone, Dolan especially is looking towards the future and not the past.
Building relationships with young players in the offseason (via SNY):
“If I have to go to Guam, I’ll go to Guam”
He knows relationships are important, and he knows his actions need to back that up. He wants to come into training camp with a rapport already developed, and even if he doesn’t actually wind up going to Guam he certainly intends to place relationships on a pedestal. Like I said earlier, these hockey players are pros – you probably don’t need to teach Buchnevich or Hayes how to make plays, but certainly, keeping them in the right mindset will help them be at their best and actually make those plays on the ice. When guys will go through a brick wall for you, your in a good place, and when you’re willing to go to Guam for them, that’s good faith.
Kevin Hayes on David Quinn (also via SNY):
“I met David when I was in high school and getting recruited by colleges. BU was actually the first team to reach out to me and since then we have had s pretty good friendship. He is friends with my family and he is a great guy. He’s an unbelievable coach. He just said to me that it was destined for him to coach me eventually”
Given that Hayes is one of those guys with the raw talent to really be a league-wide talent if he makes the next step, and given the aforementioned importance of relationships in Quinn’s mindset, this is really good to hear. Hayes now being a veteran, this kind of word passed around the locker room could really go a long way to reassuring guys like Andersson or Chytil, who got at most 5 minutes of playing time under AV (ok, a bit more at the end of the season, but still), that things will be different under Quinn and that they can rest easy regarding the trajectory their careers will end up taking.
Quinn’s letter to the fans:
“I describe my coaching style as fair and demanding. We want to be in the opposition’s faces and make them uncomfortable every shift. We want them to know when they see the Rangers on the schedule, it’s going to be a long night.”
We’re going to be a team that’s built around defense, and not only in our own zone. We’re going to play with the puck, and the minute we don’t have it, we’re going to work to get it back. Whether in our zone, their zone or the neutral zone, our job is to make things as difficult as they can be for the 20 guys in the other uniform.”
To put it bluntly, because I’ve already over analyzed every little thing he said on the Michael Kay Show and in SNY, he knows. He definitely, really, for sure, knows.
So with all that said I’ll simply leave you all with this: it’s going to be OK everybody, I really think so."Some Key Quinn Quotes",