My thoughts on David Quinn

After months of speculation and non-movement, the Rangers finally hired their next head coach: David Quinn of Boston University.  Obviously, this happened a few days ago and the staff here has done a nice job trying to contextualize a hire that doesn’t really have a lot of concrete information surrounding it.  For me, this was actually a good thing, as I had a couple days to try to digest the decision and its implications.  As you can imagine, I have my own thoughts…

Let’s first look at what we know: Quinn has been the coach of BU since 2013.  Prior to that, he was an assistant with Northeastern and head coach of University of Nebraska-Omaha.  He then moved on to the USNDT before becoming an assistant at BU. After leaving BU, he joined the pro ranks, as a head coach in the AHL and an assistant in Colorado prior to taking his most recent gig at BU.  All this since 1994.  His individual stints at his alma mater (BU) were his longest, at 5 years.  Once Quinn embarked on his coaching journey, he took opportunities to advance and strengthen his resume.  Now, nothing about this tells us anything definitive about the man, but in the aggregate, it paints the picture of someone who is very ambitious.  The decision to pursue the Rangers job only reaffirms the theory.  I don’t really have a specific point with this, just interesting the paths people take.

So, what should we expect from Quinn?  I truly believe the answer is that we have no idea, whatsoever.  All the feedback is that he is a bright guy who enjoys working with young players.  He has preached a philosophy of puck possession and controlled zone entries and engagement from the full five-man unit, offensively.  These concepts are cornerstones of an offensive philosophy, but don’t necessarily tell us much about systems implementation or deployment. My hope is that he isn’t walking into the job with a pre-set expectation about how he is going to run the systems, but that he is willing to adapt them to the strengths and weaknesses of the roster.

To piggyback on the point above, like Quinn’s systems, the Rangers’ roster in and of itself is fluid at the moment.  We have no idea what is going to happen at the Draft.  We have no idea what of the current leadership core will be left at the start of the season.  No idea what RFA’s will be leveraged into cheaper (and potentially better) long-term assets.  The presence (or not) of players like Mats Zuccarello, Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Kevin Shattenkirk, et al., would greatly influence our expectations and overall pecking order of deployment, seniority, etc., so setting expectations about how Quinn should handle certain aspects of his duties are a little premature.

That said, there are some differing theories about coaching philosophies versus front office roster construction being debated on the interhighway.  Some believe that a coach should have a preferred way he likes to play and that he shouldn’t kowtow to players’ preferences and as professionals, they should be able to pick up the system.  The front office should find players willing and able to fit that structure and ship out players who aren’t great fits.

My personal take is that the front office should do its best to ice the most talented 23-man group possible.  While I do agree to some extent that the players have a responsibility to be adaptable to any reasonable system, I do believe it is incumbent on the coach to identify the strengths and weaknesses of his roster and put the players in the best possible position to succeed.  If that means tweaking his personal preferences to maximize his available talent, so be it.  We have seen some pretty rigid coaches in NY over the past decade plus, so someone who is willing to put their own views aside for the good of the team would be welcome.

Let’s talk about the criticisms of Quinn for a second.  First, he wasn’t the Rangers’ first target.  That would be Jim Montgomery, current coach of the Dallas Stars and formerly of the University of Denver.  This isn’t a direct criticism of Quinn, per se, but it opens the door to negatively judge the hire.  There are a million reasons that we are not privy to about why a candidate takes a certain job over another.  He may want a team that is in a better position to contend, he may prefer the mid-west to NY, he and Jim Nill might have already purchased matching BFF heart necklaces.  The point is it doesn’t matter.  We will never know why Montgomery chose to pursue the Star’s opening over the Rangers and we need to work with what we have.

Secondly, one of Quinn’s biggest resume markers in the college ranks was his ability to recruit pro-level talent.  Jack Eichel, Charlie McAvoy, Clayton Keller and Jordan Greenway were all players that Quinn helped develop at BU.  The criticism being what value does recruiting prowess have in the pro-game when top prospects are drafted? In addition, his coaching record, while solid, could have included a little more hardware when he had access to players of this caliber.  His detractors are arguing that he actually underachieved when looking at the strength of his rosters.  I guess these criticisms could be true.  We don’t know at this point.  There are million possibilities as to why his track record wasn’t more impressive.  We will have to wait and see.

So, what is all this business about his history of “developing young players”?  This was something that the Rangers organization was said to be prioritizing in their coaching search in the wake of Alain Vigneault’s departure. I think this is one of those general terms that can have many different meanings, depending on context.  Is it the ability to play a really active, meaningful role in helping young players improve their skillsets?  It is just being supportive and letting them work through their mistakes at that level? Is it help with emotional maturation and understanding the responsibilities players have to reach their full potential? It is all these things, and not necessarily any one in particular.

Like the Rangers’ current roster, the concept is fluid.  Clearly, the organization was attracted to Quinn’s philosophy about the role of young players in the game, and his real work with this type of player will happen behind the scenes.  For example, we will have no idea how much Quinn’s philosophy impacted a young player, versus, say Chris Kreider or Kevin Shattenkirk taking them under their wing. Point being, fostering an environment where young players feel comfortable and able to learn how to be a pro will be paramount for Quinn.

Do I think he was a good hire? Ultimately, I have no idea.  Such is life when a non-NHL coach is selected.  Hell, this is even true when an NHL coach is hired.  When AV was brought on, I felt completely bait-and-switched about his progressive tactics and use of data to maximize matchups. There is always conjecture about a coach’s tendencies and they either manifest in their new environment or they don’t.  Quinn just gave us less talking points.

What Quinn does represent is a philosophical shift in organizational thinking, which is refreshing.  I am willing to be open minded until he shows me something that convinces me otherwise. I think he, too, as a rookie NHL head coach will have to take his lumps at times.

At the end of the day, the quality of players the team is able to dress every night will have far more impact than the coach.  If David Quinn is able to bring professionalism, accountability and fairness to the Rangers’ dressing room, I am perfectly fine with his hire.

"My thoughts on David Quinn", 3 out of 5 based on 18 ratings.

47 thoughts on “My thoughts on David Quinn

  • May 25, 2018 at 6:12 am

    I heard Quinn’s interview with Francesa yesterday, and here is basically what he said:

    1) He will make players accountable.
    2) He will make himself accountable to the players, meaning, not just tell them what to do, but tell them why he is asking them to do it.
    3) All players are not the same. Long-time vets will get treated differently than younger players.
    4) Practice will be a priority, as he will run them when the schedule allows for it.
    5) Lundqvist is still the center piece of the team (and will be for the next few years, at least), with the Rangers trying to build a good team in front of him.
    6) Gaining the respect of his players will be a priority, especially with the vets.
    7) Will be hands on and in control of everything that is coach related.

    So in other words, the anti-AV. Hooray!! I’m excited. Welcome Coach Quinn.

    • May 25, 2018 at 6:25 am

      if possession time isn’t stressed and taught… coaching change is moot.

      • May 25, 2018 at 6:29 am

        Quinn did say that, yes, that puck possession will be the desired style of play, including a strong defensive structure.

        Forgot to mention that above, thank you.

    • May 25, 2018 at 8:27 am

      3) All players are not the same. Long-time vets will get treated differently than younger players.

      Sounds a lot like what most of the AV haters hated about AV.

      • May 25, 2018 at 8:39 am

        Get rid of the Vets if they want preferential treatment…We don’t need that BS

      • May 25, 2018 at 8:50 am

        Yeah I’m not sure why Ritcher1994 said that. Quinn said everyone will be held accountable for and I thought that he covered that part so precisely in all his interviews. He even went on to talk about the psychological part behind treating everyone the same and that he’s there to help them get better and to not be that big bad coach. Shatty and Hayes identifed him as someone who will hold everyone accountable.

        Zucc had a recent interview which was like a mock speech of AV on how you the new coach needs to not baby the kids. He even mentioned how this team has the older players in place right now to compete.

        • May 25, 2018 at 4:08 pm

          All will be accountable but Quinn was saying that the teaching of the game would be different for younger players than for vet players, that’s all.

          That makes perfect sense.

      • May 25, 2018 at 4:02 pm

        Not at all, AV didn’t hold the vets ACCOUNTABLE for their play.

        Quinn is referring to respect for their experience, but will hold all players accountable. In other words, giving up game winning goals by a vet doesn’t make it easier to swallow.

        • May 27, 2018 at 2:37 am

          maybe zuc actually will be held accountable for passing up a shot in the slot …..

          • May 27, 2018 at 6:22 am

            yep, I love Zuc but not when he passes up quality scoring chances. Very frustrating.

    • May 25, 2018 at 12:37 pm

      Not that this is bad, but you aren’t describing the anti-AV. (4) is certainly the antithesis of AV, as I suppose (1) and (6) are as well, but (3) and (5) are totally in keeping with AV.

      Unlike most here, I think AV’s principal weakness was his desire to maximize the chances of winning every single game. Sometimes it is better in the long run to experiment. Let DeAngelo try to shut down Ovechkin. It isn’t likely to work, but what a payoff if it does. And if it doesn’t, just maybe all the things the coaches have been telling DeAngelo might come together for him – seeing how his flaws get exploited. You don’t want to too much of this stuff — and you want to stay away from the ridiculous (don’t lose a game seeing if Tanner Glass belongs on the PP), but AV never did any.

      I have unfortunately only had the opportunity to see the Rangers play once in person, but it was ironically perhaps the most important game in my lifetime. In February 1994, the Rangers lost in Dallas. However, it was this game that told management that the current team was not a Cup winner and pointed to what needed to be done to make the team a Cup winner.

      AV, IMO, always put winning before learning and sometimes you need to learn.

      • May 25, 2018 at 4:06 pm

        AV allowed the vets to run rampant regardless of their play and get big minutes and important minutes even if they stunk it up.

        Nailing the Skjei-Smith pair to the bench for long minutes at a time so the Staal-Holden pair play important minutes ring a bell?

        The only consistency that AV had was that there was never a vet mistake that he didn’t tolerate.

        Quinn sounds like he will make all players accountable. Like I said, the anti AV.

        • May 25, 2018 at 5:00 pm

          There is a difference between veterans and kids though. Compare Marc Staal and Brady Skjei for example. Staal is who he is. He has learned to harness his talents as well as he is going to and you know what you are getting. Either you want to use him or you don’t. You can’t really insist that he improve his game. OTOH, Skjei is still learning. There is something to be gained by pushing him to address his weaknesses. You just don’t treat these guys the same.

          HOWEVER, I won’t defend AV here. The whole “the season is a grind”, limited practices, leads to players pacing themselves. And, while it is absurd to expect Staal to upgrade his game, it is absolutely mandatory that one insists that he give maximal effort. And you can rebuke kids a lot without cutting their playing time.

          Of course, in hindsight, AV did not blow the Ottawa series by nailing Skjei-Smith to the bench. He blew the Ottawa series by nailing his best goalie to the bench (though even I did not see that one at the time).

          Wasn’t it bizarre that Staal-Holden were better than Skjei-Smith this year? Staal was far and away the best defensemen not named McDonagh.

          • May 26, 2018 at 6:39 am

            Oh Raymond, you’re blaming the Ottawa series on Lundqvist? Not true.

    • May 26, 2018 at 6:23 am


      I think you are on target. At first, I wasn’t sure about his resume but with more info and after listening to him I think he said the right things. As Walt said, Zippy could do a better job than the clown.
      I listened to Hayes and Shatty and both talked about the accountability factor. Accountability and leadership from the head were missing all last year. Players can give you a good insight as to what was missing last year. Wish him the best and hope he does what he said. That’s a good start.
      Just one point about developing young guys, Shatty played for him two years at BU. I guess he didn’t have time to develop his defensive skills. LOL. Give the guy a chance- take no prisoners

      • May 26, 2018 at 6:43 am

        Hey pal.

        I liked what Quinn has said too. I’m sure that Gorton said something like “here is why the previous coach failed” and then listened to what Quinn had to say to correct the sinking direction of the team.

        I like this approach. I was hoping that the Rangers would go in a new direction as opposed to going the old NHL coach route, and they did with this hire.

        Trading the old group at the trade deadline and now hiring a coach with new ideas and who will enforce accountability.

        So far, so good.

  • May 25, 2018 at 6:20 am

    my interpretation of “develop talent” is ability to take lesser inherent talent and improve on that. For example you see the penguins plug in no names like clockwork.

    if it means develop someone like chytil…. you know what next time don’t draft andersson when vilardi is there.

    • May 25, 2018 at 9:06 am

      Andersson will be lower than Hayes and Zib. He’s suppose to be like a Jesper Fast or as they called him a Swiss army knife.I don’t think he’ll make as a big impact as Stepan and Hayes has done so far. I can’t see him taking up a PP role anytime soon. He could out as a may stay for bottom 6 depth who can hopefully be called upon to move up or down and left and right for certain situations.

      I really think they shouldn’t forget about building cultural in Hartford. My hypothetical would be that basically all the recent acquired names and over agers like Day and Ronning build up a champion caliber team. Andersson and Howden could be competing for roster spots this summer in a tight race with Letteri. If they both need to tune up theirt games than let them be in the top 6 at Hartford.

      • May 25, 2018 at 11:09 am

        It will be interesting to see if Letteri can earn a spot. Seemed to be in AV’s doghouse. Under Quinn, I would think all players need to be well rounded. If not, develop them in their weak areas. If that is not working, trade them. We have a bunch of prospects and more coming.

        • May 25, 2018 at 5:06 pm

          There will have to be a miracle for Lettieri to make the big club. Too many players ahead of him, not good enough on the cycle and not enough D in him.

  • May 25, 2018 at 7:42 am

    I am very happy with the naming of David Quinn as head coach for a variety of reasons accountability and his working with the youngsters you need a young voice in the room and he will teach structure

  • May 25, 2018 at 7:45 am

    I have to preface my remark by stating I knew nothing about Quinn until his name was mentioned as a coaching candidate.

    Now having said that, he is a teacher, a hands on guy, will hold both himself, and players accountable, and is a no nonsense type of personality. The fact that he is ambitious to me is a great trait. He is driven to prove himself, and will do whatever is needed to reach the goal, so what’s wrong with that?

    He will teach defense, served as a d-coach in the past, so we will have structure in the defensive zone, what a novel concept. There are no indication that I read of where he shows favorites, unlike Clarabelle did, another plus for the man. Bottom line, he is young, can teach, is disciplined, and is a no nonsense guy, I love his style already, and we haven’t held our first practice yet!!!!!!!!! As for replacing Bozo, Zippy could do a better job, and it was long overdue………

  • May 25, 2018 at 7:46 am

    I wish David Quinn the best of luck. Let’s be patient, he is taking over a team that is in transition with a good group of young players with more on the way. He mentions accountability, I hope that includes having a teammates back if the opposition is playing in your face hockey. He seems to be the opposite in demeanor of AV who was all about turn the other cheek. Let’s hope the days of the Rangers of being the sissy’s of the NHL are over. Keep in mind Quinn was very successful at Boston U, he did have the advantage of having many of the top young players wanting to attend that Univerity.. GOod luck David Quinn.

  • May 25, 2018 at 7:55 am

    “Attention to detail, work habits and sound defensive structure are the tenets by which the Rangers will live and breathe playing for Quinn. This will mark a dramatic and refreshing change from the previous regime, under which practices became fewer and farther between (and less constructive) and the papier-mâché structure eroded as Alain Vigneault’s tenure reached five years”.

    “He’s fair and demanding,” said Shattenkirk, who played his first two seasons at Boston University while Quinn was an assistant and then played 13 games over two seasons for him as the head man with Lake Erie of the AHL. “He treats players with a lot of respect and he expects you to show up to work every day. He’s constantly going to develop you as a player, which is what we need here”.

    The above are the highlights from Brooks’ article in the post this morning. I’m excited about this guy, and new format that we will play under!!!!

    • May 25, 2018 at 9:01 pm

      Me Too, Walt! Like it or not, this is what we have asked for, let’s sit back and enjoy the ride to our next Stanley Cup!

  • May 25, 2018 at 8:24 am

    Good piece Dave.

    I couldn’t agree more, no one knows how Quinn will fair. But he appears to be the polar opposite of AV and for that I am extremely GRATEFUL. It appears now that the locker room will not be left to the players. That the head coach will impose his input and authority into the room that AV felt he should not be a part of. I said this numerous times before and I’ll say it again. The ONLY time the locker room should be left to the players is when a team has a captain with STRONG leadership qualities.

    I used the word “appears” twice in the above paragraph. Talk is cheap, and I’ve never read an account of a press conference introducing a new head coach where the right things weren’t said.

    Personally I am happy to have a change from AV, so it stands to reason that I’ll be more patient with Quinn than I otherwise might be. He wasn’t my first choice as I had my fingers crossed for Keefe, but that didn’t happen. I do not follow college hockey so those who do follow college hockey and have questioned Quinn’s ability probably know far more than I do.

    However, as I said, he’s got my support until he otherwise does something idiotic, like ‘lose a player on the bench’.

    Can’t wait until the draft!!!!

  • May 25, 2018 at 8:37 am

    The best part is, this is a rebuild, emphasis on development and accountability

    We drafted but didn’t develop….Jessiman, Sanguenetti, Del Zotto, McIlrath, Zherdev (trade)….key cog in a rebuild is this right here….development, drafting the right people and a system that is also taught in the AHL.

    Out with the old and in with the new….build the right way….Oooooh raaaah

    • May 25, 2018 at 6:44 pm

      Jessiman, McIlrath hindered by injury, DelZotto rushed, Sanguinetti an Offensive D that didn’t work out(if I had a no cell for every one of those that didn’t pan out)

      • May 25, 2018 at 6:45 pm

        Or a nickel instead of no cell

        • May 25, 2018 at 6:57 pm

          ain’t spell check wonderful!

  • May 25, 2018 at 8:48 am

    I am a bit more concerned than most. This is quite a leap for Mr. Quinn, into the fire of NY media. Everything is great until the team hits a 5 game losing streak and 2 players are benched. Can he handle the scrutiny? If we are really looking to develop players, why aren’t we recruiting other college coaches to run our team in Hartford?

    Developing young players at the NHL level will be a difficult challenge for most teams – doing in NY is quite another thing.

    Good luck Mr. Quinn, and pick your own coaches, and do not put Lindy in charge of the defense.

    • May 25, 2018 at 9:18 am

      I think having a young established center who can play on both special teams and bring defensive prowess while generating at 5 on 5 from Hayes will come in handy. Shatty is going to have a coach who can utilize him in a way that make sense will be another key that Quinn will have on deck. I think it’ll be good that he’ll have two different kind of voices that can vouch for him in the locker room.

  • May 25, 2018 at 9:27 am

    Just a note about his results over the years with BU. Sometimes getting the best recruits actually makes it harder to get the best results. The best recruits tend to leave after their freshmen or sophomore year, there’s lots of turnover … which then just leads to more recruiting. Team building becomes in some ways more difficult when you’re constantly recycling players as opposed to having the majority of your team for 4 years straight — especially when we’re talking about 18-19 year olds going up against 22-23 year olds.

    • May 25, 2018 at 9:33 am

      Not many 18 yearolds playing D1 most of those guys bounce around juniors for a couple of years before going D1. I guess a lot of the top in talent comes in at 18.

      • May 25, 2018 at 5:07 pm

        That’s my point, the BEST recruits usually are freshmen in college and on the better college teams (like BU, UND, BC, etc.) when they get drafted — like a Brady Tkachuk. These kids don’t last in college more than a year or two before they turn pro — or after a freshmen year sometimes see themselves playing 1 year in Major Junior. So it’s a blessing but in some ways a curse.

    • May 25, 2018 at 10:47 pm

      So you’re saying that after 10 years as associate head coach(whatever that means) and HC at BU, Quinn *still* couldn’t figure it out?

      That’s not very comforting.

  • May 25, 2018 at 9:30 am

    Ok that’s done now the Draft and FA. Still it is likely to be a tough year in ranger town. When the team was taken apart in the 70’s it took a couple of tough years to rebound leading up to trip to the finals in 79 and some solid teams in the early 80’s they were just not the islanders. I really think based on history we will not see them stick with the youth movement for too long. With CAP space comes the big FA splashes we’ll see it will be interesting.

  • May 25, 2018 at 9:43 am

    Screw the UFA route….been there done that way too many times….it doesn’t work

  • May 25, 2018 at 9:55 am

    Happy Holiday Weekend All.

    I am pumped for the youth of our club, it’s time they truly shine! LGR!!!!!

  • May 25, 2018 at 10:22 am

    I like this signing. It does send the right message. I also think Quinn’s biggest asset we know now is his ability to develop younger players and that is something that has been greatly lacking in the past few years. The young kids need to play and play through their mistakes. That’s how they become veterans. I hope we don’t see things like Buch parked on the 4th line, for example. It sounds like we should expect better.

    As for system. They all need to be board. Players and coaches. That will be evolving continuously. I like the idea of puck possession and controlled zone entries being priorities to the system. After AV and Torts, this would be very welcome. Furthermore, we don’t know who is going to bring in as Assistant coaches so even the assistant coaching situation is fluid.

    Regarding his resume not containing much hardware, I think that is ok. It will give him something to work towards. But more importantly the past does not indicated the future. Jon Cooper has had great luck in the minor leagues but has not been able to bring Tampa a cup. Yet. Jim Montgomery is a non-event. Can’t worry about things that aren’t happening.

    The decision has been made. Let’s give David Quinn a shot and see what he can do.

  • May 25, 2018 at 10:59 am

    Yes, good coaching change. Now trade up to have 2 picks in the top 15 (one D and one winger) and build up some talent in the AHL. Need top prospects and winning attitude all around.

    • May 25, 2018 at 9:17 pm

      As Egel always says, and I concur, we need centers!

  • May 25, 2018 at 12:28 pm

    i am hoping for the best. i am excited LGR ….have a safe memorial day weekend

  • May 25, 2018 at 12:53 pm

    Good article Justin. Honestly, we can’t be certain if even David Quinn knows what he will do as coach. I suspect he has a few hare-brained ideas and one of the tests is simply to see how he moves beyond them.

    I am not optimistic about Quinn, but personally I think that Gerard Gallant is a cut above any of the coaches I’ve seen not named Scotty Bowman. And I see no reason why there isn’t another Gallant out there – there is no way such a coach will be found through the usual channels. So I like the idea of gambling here.

    I hope Quinn is not obsessed with controlled zone entries (or for that matter puck possession). A team that relies on controlled zone entries can and will be beaten. There is a clear strategy for doing so. Perhaps dump and chase can be beaten; that is less clear. Winning hockey involves the ability to use both approaches. You need to be able to dump and chase when the team stands up at the blue line and carry in when they let you. We can argue about which should be the primary technique of zone entry, but I hope we can agree that a team that cannot be versatile is not going to win.

  • May 25, 2018 at 12:59 pm

    “We have seen some pretty rigid coaches in NY over the past decade plus”

    not so sure

    Tortorella tended to not play young players and the team floundered. The Rangers absolutely needed a new coach – a coach that would rely on Ranger youth. Torts said “I can be that coach” and he was. The Rangers effectively fire Tortorella 1.0 and hired Tortorella 2.0. Rigid?

    And AV always adjusted his team’s defensive zone play to suit Lundqvist’s whims. That is hardly rigid.

  • May 25, 2018 at 11:06 pm

    Meanwhile, Toronto Marlies in the Calder Cup final with back to back seeeps.

    Little Jimmy Dolan has gotten bored with the Knicks, now blessing the Rangers with his “Midas” touch.

    • May 27, 2018 at 6:24 am

      Keefe wasn’t coming here, he is the heir apparent in Toronto.

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