All spring, the New York Rangers have been tight lipped. Very little rumblings have surfaced about who they would target as their head coach. Many have speculated the highly touted Sheldon Keefe, and some even Jim Montgomery who eventually went to the more “ready to win” Dallas Stars. One reporter who seemed to have it nailed was Larry Brooks of the New York Post who early on had David Quinn pegged as a possible candidate in the Rangers coaching search. Fast forward to all the breaking news this week, and here we are. The New York Rangers finally got their man, Boston University’s David Quinn. David Quinn was brought in mostly for three key reasons, player development, communication, and defense.
At the end of the season, much of the chatter surrounding the firing of Alain Vigneault was focused on player development. The Rangers specifically targeted coaches who have had success developing kids into pro NHLers, so they looked towards the NCAA. This is no surprise as 11 of the players on the New York Rangers roster are former NCAA athletes. And it’s also no surprise they went with Quinn, who was the head coach of the USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program and recently pegged to coach the USA World Junior team. Over his tenure at BU, Quinn has developed Jack Eichel, Clayton Keller, and Charlie McAvoy as well as coached current Ranger Kevin Shattenkirk. Developing talent has always been a forte for Quinn so this box is clearly checked for the Rangers brass.
According to John Buccigross who was featured on GSN's The Garden Faithful podcast with Woj & Fitz, David Quinn has a Mike Sullivan type of demeanor with a loud booming voice. In his presser yesterday, Quinn was direct and honest with the questions that were asked and said “at the end of the day this is all about relationships” as he prides himself on being a solid communicator with his players. To further reiterate, Quinn was a featured guest on WFAN with Mike Francesa and spoke heavily about how “relationships are pivotal in development.” Quinn stated that “the communication piece is so important” and that “If there’s no connection between the coach and the player, you will have a hard time developing.” This is a critical factor when developing a young roster. The kids don’t just want to be told what to do, but they are constantly asking the “why” component. This here is crucial. A young player who asks why and you as a coach can articulate the logic, the player then in turn is less likely to commit the same mistake again and turn that into a true learned activity to impact his developmental curve and improve the overall game.
The New York Rangers have become progressively worse in their own zone over the last 3 years. At 5v5 play they have posted a GA/60 of 1.93 (2015/16) to 2.30 (2016/17) and 2.74 (2017/18) jumping up almost a whole goal per game during that span and it is no surprise to anyone that a major factor in the coaching search was someone who could remedy this systematic issue, and to Quinn’s credit his defensive structure has worked out well. Quinn preaches fundamentally sound defensive concepts, good stick positioning, angling, and gap control. But it doesn’t just end there. Quinn is a coach who believes his forwards are a critical part of a sound defensive structure as well, which is why he addresses being aggressive with forechecking to obtain the puck back. A key part of Quinn’s philosophy is one of “puck possession.” Similarly, to a concept in football well known as ball control, puck possession is critical in driving and maintaining play. Simply put, the more you control the puck, the less your opponent does and the more time your opponent spends in their own zone and or chasing pucks. David Quinn’s rationale is that a successful team is one that possess the puck and when they don’t they will want to pressure the opposition to regain the puck. A solid defensive zone system according to Quinn starts the second you don’t have the puck. Furthermore, Quinn also believes his defense is a major component of an offense. He believes his defense should be able to carry the puck and enter the zone with speed and start to drive play. These ideas are music to the ears of most Rangers fans and it’s up to Quinn now to set these wheels in motion.