Insider Insight: What Rangers fans can expect from David Quinn as a coach

Scott McLaughlin covered David Quinn (WEEI)

The Rangers are expected to be announcing the hiring of David Quinn as the new head coach of the team next week. He will be only the 5th head coach in the last 50 years to make the jump from college to the NHL.

The questions most fans are asking are:

  • Who is David Quinn?
  • What kind of coach is he?
  • What style does his team play?

We reached out to Scott McLaughlin who covered David Quinn and B.U. for WEEI radio to get the insight we need.

Q. How would you describe David Quinn as a coach?

A.¬†Quinn is a coach who wants to play an uptempo style. He likes having mobile defensemen who can start breakouts and get things going in transition, and he’ll let them get involved in the offensive zone too. He wants forwards going hard on the forecheck. You rarely saw his BU teams sit back and play conservative, and if they did, he probably wasn’t happy about it.

As far as personality goes, he’s outgoing and honest. As a media member, he was always great to deal with. He won’t throw players under the bus, but he’s not afraid to talk about their struggles either. He can be pretty funny at times too.
Q. What are his top strengths?
A. At the college level, his biggest strength was recruiting top players and selling BU as the right move for that player’s career. It’s a bit unclear what, if anything, that means at the NHL level. Maybe he can help the Rangers develop a “culture” where players like playing there, but obviously there’s not recruiting like there is in college.
That said, I also think he was good at developing players on an individual level. I think guys like Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk got better under his tutelage. Jack Eichel and Clayton Keller came in with talent through the roof already, but I think he helped get them ready for the next level. Brady Tkachuk got better throughout this past season and probably helped his draft stock. Perhaps that helps with a rebuilding, presumably young team.
Q. What areas do you think he could struggle with as a head coach in the NHL?
A. The one knock against Quinn is that his teams didn’t always live up to their potential. They consistently had as much talent as anyone in the country, and they did make the NCAA tournament each of the last four years, but ultimately he only has one Frozen Four and one national championship game appearance to show for it, and that was the year he had Eichel, as good a college hockey player as any of us have seen. His teams were a little too inconsistent for some fans’ liking, and there were times it felt like the whole was less than the sum of the parts.
It’s worth noting that because Quinn landed so many blue-chip recruits, his teams were always among the youngest in the country, so that’s a factor in some of the inconsistency. But ultimately, if that’s the kind of team you build, you’re expected to find a way to have them grow into a national title contender by the end of the season, and outside of that one year, his teams tended to fall a little short of that. As far as what that means for the Rangers, obviously he won’t be coaching so many 17- and 18-year-olds, but he will still need to find a way to get guys to mesh and play consistently as a team and less as a collection of individuals.
Q. The Rangers have many players on the roster that came from the NCAA. What do you think Quinn can carry over from college hockey that would translate well to the NHL game?
A. I think that uptempo style his teams play will translate well. The NHL is obviously getting faster and that’s exactly the kind of team Quinn will want to build. He’ll be able to help defensemen improve their transition games. It’s worth noting that he did go through a bit of a rebuild at BU, too. The team he inherited wasn’t good, and BU was terrible his first season. But he had a plan and has had BU in the NCAA tournament every year since. Getting Eichel in his second year was obviously a huge part of the turnaround, but it wasn’t the only part.
Q. New York is a tough place for a new coach, how do you think he will balance developing players and meeting the high expectations of the organization and city?
A. I think he’ll be fine as far as adapting to the demands of the NHL. It’s not like he’s totally unfamiliar with coaching at the pro level. He’s been a head coach in the AHL and an assistant coach in the NHL, so he knows what he’s getting into. I’m sure he’s talked to fellow BU guys Chris Drury and Steve Greeley (now with the Sabres) about what it’s like working for the Rangers, so I don’t think there will be any surprises.