It’s been six weeks since the New York Rangers fired Alain Vigneault, nearly three weeks since the Blueshirts swung and missed on rumored frontrunner-turned-Dallas Stars coach Jim Montgomery and it’s been exactly two weeks since the Carolina Hurricanes promoted Rob Brind’Amour, leaving the Rangers as the only NHL club with a vacancy behind the bench.
It appears as though it’s only a matter of days, if not hours, until New York officially names its next bench boss, however. Over the weekend, a number of reports, including one from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, indicated the Rangers are closing in on a deal with Boston University coach David Quinn.
Quinn’s name cropping up in discussions about a potential successor to Vigneault is nothing new, of course. Earlier this off-season, Quinn, 51, was considered one of the top candidates for the post, but it appeared as though the two sides would be unable to come to an agreement. In fact, the New York Post reported in early May that despite interviewing for the Blueshirts’ gig, Quinn had said that he would be returning to Boston University. Less than three weeks later, all signs point to a change of heart. One potential turning point in New York’s pursuit of Quinn may be a contract, too. As there’s been no official hiring yet, the details of the contract are unknown, but ESPN’s John Buccigross reported a Quinn deal with the Rangers could be for five years and worth as much as $12 million.
By bringing Quinn aboard, New York will become the third team in recent memory to fill their coaching vacancy through the NCAA ranks, making it seem as though a new coaching pipeline could be forming from the college circuit to the big league. As noted, the Stars hired Montgomery, formerly the coach at University of Denver, and the Philadelphia Flyers got the ball rolling on the NCAA-to-NHL route when they hired Dave Hakstol ahead of the 2015-16 campaign.
It’s no wonder Quinn was seen as a leading candidate for the job, either, nor is it particularly shocking that an NHL club would seek to pry him out of his post with the Terriers, where he has spent the past five seasons. He was named the Hockey East coach of the year for his work behind the bench in 2014-15, and this past season he led Boston University to a Hockey East title. The Terriers fell short of an appearance in the Frozen Four, however, dropping the regional final to University of Michigan.
Quinn does, however, have a national championship under his belt, though it dates back to his previous tenure at the school. After stepping behind the bench in 1994-95 — his playing career had ended two seasons following after a stint with the IHL’s Cleveland Lumberjacks — Quinn spent time at Northeastern, University of Nebraska-Omaha and two seasons with Team USA’s National Team Development Program before joining Boston University, his alma mater, as an associate coach alongside legendary Terriers coach Jack Parker. In 2008-09, the Terriers won a national title, but that success would lead to Quinn temporarily leaving the school to pursue other opportunities.
Those other opportunities, too, will give Quinn an idea of what to expect when he makes this jump to the NHL. Immediately following the national title victory, Quinn joined on with the then-Lake Erie Monsters and spent three campaigns coaching for the AHL club before earning himself a shot alongside Joe Sacco on the Colorado Avalanche bench during the 2012-13 season. His first season spent on an NHL bench was his last, though, as he was patrolling the Boston University bench to start the 2013-14 campaign following Parker’s retirement.
For the Rangers, hiring Quinn has the potential to do wonders for a team looking to develop a next generation and rebuild on the fly. He has been heralded for his ability to help young players develop, and over his past five years with the Terriers, Quinn has had a hand in the development of Jack Eichel, Clayton Keller, Charlie McAvoy, Jordan Greenway, Matt Grzelcyk and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, among others. For a roster undergoing a refresh, and one that includes a number of players who are 25 or younger such as Mika Zibanejad, Vladislav Namestnikov, Jimmy Vesey, Pavel Buchnevich, Brady Skjei, Neal Pionk and Anthony Deangelo, Quinn could be the perfect coach to help drive the youth movement.
It’s also worth noting, too, that USA Hockey had such faith in Quinn’s ability to work with young players that he had been chosen to lead Team USA at the upcoming World Junior Championship. Of course, his hiring in New York — again, not official, but seemingly set to happen at any moment — will preclude Quinn from taking the gig and running the American bench at the competition in British Columbia, but that he was selected hints at what one of the strongest national junior programs felt about Quinn’s strengths as a coach.
So, while there’s still a lot of work to be done this off-season for the Rangers, who are experiencing their first spring without playoff hockey in eight seasons, one major need has been filled, and there’s no reason to believe Quinn’s hiring can’t be a major step forward for an organization that was in dire need of a real reset.
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