New York Rangers David Quinn still coaching through proxy and working well with Kris Knoblauch

David Quinn
Feb 4, 2021; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers head coach David Quinn handles bench duties during a game against the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Bennett/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Kris Knoblauch is the perfect front man as the New York Rangers enter another contest with their eyes set on a win. Since his emergency call up due to David Quinn testing positive for COVID-19, Knoblauch has been in constant contact with the head coach. They speak by phone or zoom daily, and multiple times on game days.

So while the Blueshirts have won three of their last four with some new faces behind the bench, it is still Quinn and his staff pulling the strings and making the calls.

Kris Knoblauch explained his role after the first win

It sometimes surprises me just how many fans are unaware of how this has been working. I understand my job is to dig and gather all the information. I present to our readers with day-to-day details and fair analysis. That’s why I know exactly the role Knoblauch has been playing. However, on a daily basis I interact with fans who say things like; “now we know the coach was the problem.”

Many fans are not interested in the details, or the behind-the-scenes workings – they just care about wins and losses. Which is fair, but a very incomplete way to look at the results. Still, if anyone just spent a little time on here or watched Knoblauch’s pressers he’s been very upfront at who is really making the calls.

After the Rangers demolished the Flyers 9-0, Knoblauch detailed how Quinn and the staff prepared them. “I talked to Quinny throughout the day – we probably had six phone calls,” he revealed. “Obviously the game plan was set out for us – well prepared.” Expectedly, Quinn detractors disregarded those comments and felt Mika Zibanejad’s breakout game was due to Knoblauch.

“A big part of our success tonight came off O-zone face-offs,” Knoblauch began to explain. “I remember that was one of the things [Quinn] told me before the game was to give our top lines more opportunities to score. Have them take those offensive zone face-offs.” Once again, Knoblauch details how he is executing a predetermined game-plan that includes how to distribute ice time.

The good and bad of it all

new york rangers
Bruce Bennett/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

Finding anything bad when the team has gone 3-1 in the current set up is difficult. However, Knoblauch’s rigidness with sticking to the game plans laid out before him caused Alexis Lafrenière to play a season low 7:53 in a win against the Capitals.

“It’s mismanagement of the bench and not realizing the situation,” Knoblauch admitted. “I did want to keep him away from their top line – but other than that I wish I would’ve played him more. There was a lot of D-zone face-offs for us and it was unfortunate that he missed out on some shifts.” For those keeping score; when Quinn lost Kaapo Kakko earlier this season to a season low 9:55 in January the cat calls for his firing were loud.

Of course in the next game; Knoblauch and Quinn talked and he loosened up to find 14:21 of ice for the #1 overall pick in the draft. He even moved Kakko up to the second line in that same game, his first such line shuffle of consequence and it led to a two goal performance for the 20 year-old Finn.

If there is one thing that we hope David Quinn can pull out from his long-distance coaching is that he should limit his in-game line shuffling. Repetition leads to consistency, and keeping units together even when it may feel right to shake it up in the middle of the game is a better long-term approach. To be clear; this is not a call to never shuffle the lines. When I coached youth hockey, I would shuffle my kids all the time – it’s what coaches do.

Credit where credit is due. Knoblauch has done a great job executing for the Rangers, but we all need to remember where he gets his marching orders from. This surge by the Rangers belongs primarily to the players, but Quinn deserves tremendous credit as well.

Note: Listen to Kris Knoblauch detail exactly how David Quinn and the staff are working with him during this time (4:30 mark)

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Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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