Could David Quinn and two former Rangers bench bosses be Jack Adams finalists
Rangerstown has been fixated, and rightfully so, at the Wild Card portion of the Eastern Conference standings ever since their beloved hockey team crept back into the playoff race after the All Star break at the end of January. Thanks to the Dynamic Duo of Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin as well as the superior goal tending of Russian wunderkind Igor Shesterkin, the Blueshirts currently, barely, are on the outside looking in of the Stanley Cup playoffs and are well-within striking distance of the top eight teams as we head into the home stretch of the eternal NHL regular season.
While taking a gander at those same standings, if you use your mouse, or your finger (if you’re reading this article on a mobile device) scroll up just a bit to see who’s on the precipice of first place in the Metropolitan Division. Why, it’s the Philadelphia Flyers who are now coached by our old friend and former Ranger head coach, Alain Vigneault.
As “AV” accomplished in his first year coaching the Rangers in 2013-14, the Flyers are a completely different squad than they were in previous years. AV, as he did on Broadway, has brought structure, balance and a defensive conscience to Broad Street. Under Vigneault’s tutelage, the Flyers have marched their way towards the top of the division and are a certain playoff team with Stanley Cup aspirations. The surprising success of the Flyers would assuredly make AV a candidate for the Jack Adams award for Coach of the Year.
Now, if you can, please scroll back down the Eastern Conference standings just a smidge. You’ll see another surprising squad coached by another former Blueshirt bench boss. Yes, the Columbus Blue Jackets, coached by the fiery, the combustible, the hysterical John Tortorella, currently hold one of the two Wild Card berths. The Jackets, who lost most of their best players to free agency and injury, are arguably the NHL’s most astonishing teams.
As “Torts” did while patrolling the bench inside the World’s Most Famous Arena, he has gotten his over-performing, under-skilled Blue Jacket team to buy into his take-no-prisoners, shot-blocking, team first mantra. Some how, some way, Tortorella has his injury depleted, free agency ravaged team on a one way track towards playoff hockey. The surprising success of the Blue Jackets would assuredly make Torts a candidate for the Jack Adams award for Coach of the Year.
Getting back to your favorite hockey team, the Rangers. Many pundits and prognosticators are floating around the idea of current head coach David Quinn being in the Jack Adams conversation. Let’s be honest, many members of the Garden Faithful were looking at mock draft boards and trying to figure out Lottery statistics during the NHL All Star break. With the Blueshirts some eleven points away from the final playoff position, the chances of the mediocre, inconsistent “Baby Blueshirts” climbing up the standings seemed low. Quinn deserves a lot of credit for keeping his young, inexperienced team focused and for not letting their disappointing, underwhelming position in the standings get them down.
When the Rangers are performing their customary end-of-the-season “Blueshirts Of Our Backs” ceremony on the Garden ice following the final regular season game against the Blackhawks on April 4th. if an MSG broadcaster is interviewing de facto captain Mika Zibanejad about their presumptive first round playoff opponent, one would expect Quinn to certainly be in the audience at the NHL Awards extravaganza as an Adams finalist.
Rangers Coaching Tree
So, let’s envision a scenario in which the Flyers win the Metro division and the Blue Jackets and Blueshirts claim the Wild Cards spots in the East. Would the current Ranger head coach and his two immediate predecessors all be in Las Vegas, in tuxedos, awaiting the opening of the envelope to announce which of the three has won Coach of the Year? To me, seeing the New York Rangers coaching tree represented and recognized at the NHL Awards ceremony in that manner would fill me with pride.