Assessing the performance of Rangers head coach David Quinn
The New York Rangers have officially reached the halfway point of their 2018-19 schedule. Through 41 games, the Blueshirts have posted a 17-17-7 record. At first glance, that record screams of mediocrity. And, for a team smack dab in the middle of a player rebuild with a first-time NHL head coach, a .500 record at the season’s halfway mark isn’t all that bad.
However, when the skills competition known as the shootout is discounted, and the complete and utter folly known as the overtime loss AKA “the loser point” is eliminated, the Rangers’ true record would be just 12 wins and 29 losses including shootouts. This updated and more accurate version of their midseason record screams of a far different, and more appropriate, adjective that our esteemed editors would frown upon, so we’ll leave it at that.
The Ranger fans were sent a very elegant and transparent notification in February of 2018 warning them about the purging of the current roster of long-time Rangers and a multitude of fan-favorites. Rangers management alerted The Garden Faithful and insisted them to be vigilant and patient as the franchise transitioned from a perennial playoff caliber team to a bottom feeder with the hope of returning to postseason contention as soon as humanly possible. Step one of this transformation was to upgrade the talent on the NHL roster and increase the level of depth throughout the organization. Step two was to bring in a bench boss that was capable of steering this franchise through the choppy, murky waters known as the rebuild. My goodness, how many times have we, as writers, and you, as readers, written and read the word, “rebuild?” But I digress.
GM Jeff Gorton tabbed Boston University head coach David Quinn as the right person to lead the team through this arduous and difficult process. The former Terrier head man was renowned for his ability to develop young, talented players. The extensive list of current NHL players who thrived under Quinn’s tutelage in the college ranks was assuredly one of the main reason as to why the Rangers hierarchy was so insisting on obtaining his services. Has coach Quinn done a good job thus far? Was he the right person to lead the team? Well, let’s examine the particulars.
When any franchise in any sport is going through a transitional period, their success is not based on wins and losses. Instead, the true barometer of achievement is whether or not the team is heading in the right direction, standings be damned! When the Rangers were going through a period of quality hockey right before Thanksgiving, and they sported a 9-1-1 record in an eleven game stretch, most felt the switch from the suave, placid, debonair Alain Vigneault to the fiery, vociferous, demanding David Quinn was the correct move. However, when this is put under a magnifying glass, I have to give coach Quinn an unfavorable rating. My reasoning is as follows…
One of the many reasons why the man known as “AV” was given a pink slip in April 2018 was because of the embarrassingly high levels of apathy and indifference from his players. In other words, he lost the team and that is an automatic death sentence for any coach. If you’ve watched the current Ranger team play over the last several weeks since the listless, Black Friday shutout loss in Philadelphia, you’ve noticed similarly high levels of fecklessness and stunningly low levels of team chemistry.
What’s even more alarming is Filip Chytil, Brett Howden and Neal Pionk, three extremely important pieces to the foundation of the future of the franchise, have all slammed into the proverbial rookie wall; going 100 MPH without wearing their seatbelts. And Lias Andersson, the 2017 seventh overall draft pick, has been banished to the AHL affiliate in Hartford. Quinn’s acumen is supposed to be in developing these talented but raw neophytes and help them grow and progress into successful professionals. Thus far, this has not been the case.
I am not saying Quinn was the wrong hire. I am not saying Quinn is a bad coach. I am not saying Quinn is the NHL’s version of Ben McAdoo. I am not saying Quinn won’t, one day, lead his team to the Promised Land. What I am saying is, Quinn’s two primary tasks when he succeeded Vigneault were to exhume the passion and vigor that was lost under his predecessor and to steadily improve these talented, young players whose development was entrusted to him. Through the first half of his first NHL season as a head coach, Quinn, like his players, still has a lot of learning and adjusting to do.
Assimilating to the world of the NHL is not easy, to say the least. Perhaps, moving forward, Quinn can tone it down a bit with the berating and the outbursts and the benchings? His John Tortorella impression seems to be having the opposite results of the desired outcome. When we get to the season’s end in April, let’s see if Quinn, along with Chytil, Howden, Pionk, and Andersson are marching to a new beat.