As we sit just a few days away from another installment of the Stanley Cup Finals, the New York Rangers have made the first in a series of pivotal decisions that will shape the organizations future for years to come. Coming off a season that saw the team clean house, shipping out captain Ryan McDonagh, forwards J.T Miller, Rick Nash, Michael Grabner and defensemen Nick Holden, there was no questioning that the Rangers were taking a stroll down rebuild road. As the season drew to a close the only question that would remain would be the status of head coach Alain Vigneault. That question would be answered quickly as Vigneault was relieved of his duties merely hours after the teams final game, a 5-0 loss to Philadelphia that closed the book on the first season that did not end in the playoffs for the Rangers since 2010. The tenure for Vigneault as coach in NY was a successful one by most standards, a 226-147-37 record, 4 playoff appearances in 5 seasons and a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. Certainly coaches have kept their jobs sporting less accolades on their resume than Vigneault has on his. Despite the successful NY tenure for the Quebec City native, it just felt like the right time to part ways. Enter David Quinn.
If you are a fan of the NHL and have not heard the name David Quinn before, don’t panic you are not alone. The 51 year old has coached the Boston University Terriers hockey team since 2013. When a team has been around for 92 years it is rare that they do something for only the second time, but when the Rangers officially introduce David Quinn, he will become just the second coach the Rangers have hired directly from the NCAA ranks in their history, with the other being Herb Brooks who was hired after a year coaching overseas. The hockey journey for Quinn begins as a highly touted young defenseman who was drafted in the first round by the Minnesota North Stars in 1984, Quinn decided to pass on the opportunity to turn pro and instead decided to play at Boston University under famed coach Jack Parker. A battle with Christmas disease, which is an extremely rare disorder that prevents blood from clotting properly nearly ended his hockey career. Quinn however refused to give up on the game that he loved, even signing a waiver that would release BU from any liability should he suffer a debilitating injury. Unfortunately the disorder would eventually bring an end to his career on the ice, but behind the bench would be Quinn’s new home.
A few coaching stops at Northeastern University, University of Nebraska-Omaha and Lake Erie with the AHL affiliate for the Colorado Avalanche, Quinn finally made it behind an NHL bench when he was hired as an assistant coach on Joe Sacco’s staff for the Avalanche big club in the lockout shortened 2012-2013 season. The coaching career for Quinn took launch in 2013 when he was named the eleventh coach for Boston University replacing his former mentor Jack Parker. Over the next 5 seasons, Quinn would lead his Terriers to two Hockey East tournament titles (2015, 2018), two Hockey East regular-season titles (2015, 2017), the 2015 Beanpot championship and four straight appearances in the NCAA tournament. The success that Quinn has had in the college ranks is a huge reason, he will be named the 35th coach in NY Rangers history. The current roster is filled with players who’s development over the next several years will be integral to getting the Rangers back to the postseason and beyond. With 8 picks in the first 3 rounds of this coming NHL draft the roster is certain to get even younger than it already is. A statement issued by GM Jeff Gorton said “In a coaching career that has spanned over two decades at the collegiate, pro, and international level, David has helped his teams achieve success while simultaneously teaching the game and helping his players develop on and off the ice.” Gorton would also go on to say “He is the ideal choice to bring our loyal and passionate fans the winning hockey they deserve.” The Rangers success or lack of it over the next decade will be molded by the decision that the Rangers have made in Quinn. Whether it will be a successful tenure for the former Terrier, will primarily be based upon the development of the young players already in the locker room. Can Quinn develop Brady Skjei into a top pair defesneman? Can he bring out the best consistently in Russian winger Pavel Buchnevich? Can he turn former Harvard standout and Hobey Baker winner Jimmy Vesey into the player he was once expected to become? Patience can be a difficult thing to preach to a fan base in NY, but if Quinn is successful in the development of the young core group of Rangers, the reward will be worth the wait.
Article written by Rich Warnock
Photo Courtesy of Newsday