The New York Rangers are set to hire David Quinn to become their next head coach. The 2018-2019 season does not present much upside, but, it will be one of the most important seasons in franchise history.
Quinn compiled a 105-67-21 record at Boston University in his five-year tenure and proves to be a very qualified head coaching replacement based off of his resume.
He is lauded to be the ideal head coach for the rebuilding Rangers. He wasn’t exactly what the organization had hoped for, who pushed for Jim Montgomery, former head coach of the University of Denver. Or, what the fans had hoped for, who lobbied for Toronto Marlies head coach Sheldon Keefe. But, he has the attributes to push the Rangers forward from the rebuild, towards a more positive future.
A brief recap of Quinn’s coaching style tells us this.
Quinn is an individual who has an affinity for developing youth within an organization. This attribute was the primary factor in hiring a new head coach for the Rangers. This aspect of Quinn’s style is already an immense upgrade over Vigneault.
But wait, there’s more.
Quinn also tends to be a far more vocal coach on the bench. He is stern, but instills a great degree of toughness in his players. But, this isn’t the “hit everyone, fight everyone” model of toughness.
The 51-year-old does take some semblance of an analytical approach, but it is geared more towards overall sense. He, in today’s NHL, will emphasize speed and skill over hitting and fighting. But, the ability to be physical, and, more importantly, the ability to endure physicality, are aspects of the game that Quinn could teach to this young squad.
In being vocal on the bench, he is much less frustrating to watch than the former and apathetic Vigneault. While this comment is irrelevant to the success of the team, it is much more appealing for a fan to see a passionate head coach instead of a gloomy and unenthusiastic head coach. Quinn will be well-liked in New York.
The collective evaluation of Quinn’s style can be that he develops young players, polices the locker room, and can instill the character that has been lacking in this locker room for a number of years. In other words, he fits most of the necessary criteria.
But, to succeed in his first season on Broadway, Quinn must do five things.
Unapologetically Play the Youth
To reiterate a few things to Ranger fans, since this topic continues to be relentlessly brought up: the Rangers are not looking to be a competitive team this season.
Is it possible that the Rangers sneak into the playoffs as a low seed? Yes, it certainly is. But, it should not be an expectation. With the dismal defense that the New York Rangers possess, there is no reason to expect that the team can realistically compete any time soon.
What they should focus on is playing young talent…consistently. Play Filip Chytil at the second line center, play Lias Andersson at the third line center. While having your middle-six centered by two teenagers isn’t ideal, it is the best thing for their development. I would even settle for the team playing Chytil on the third line and Andersson on the fourth line, for this season only. As long as both are inconsistent roles this season, there is not much I can complain about.
Additionally, Neal Pionk and should be allowed to play as great of a role as he did last season. Anthony DeAngelo should be given his final chance to succeed under Quinn’s style. These next few years are about developing youth, and youth only.
Be Patient, the New York Media and Fans have Ridiculous Expectations
Like I mentioned earlier, it will be hard to compete with a weak roster such as this one. Quinn cannot expect greatness in his first season. He must expect a steady upswing.
Fans and the media in New York likely will not immediately embrace you when your team inevitably struggles.
Remain composed, and do your thing. Don’t change for the fans and the media. Stay true to yourself.
Handle the Henrik Lundqvist Situation with Care
This topic has not been discussed enough. While this phenomenon relies on an assumption, it is worrisome nonetheless.
Henrik Lundqvist has been the generational talent that has carried the Rangers for most of his career. His competitive spirit is second to none, which could become worrisome for the team later this season.
Lundqvist has made his expectations clear for this season. He wants his team to be competitive all the way through. When the team inevitably begins to lose, there could be issues in the locker room. This would be the last thing the Rangers would need as a rebuilding team: drama.
Lundqvist is not, and never has been, the guy to stir up drama. But, this season could result in his temper and frustrations boiling over, and rightfully so.
Quinn must be careful with this situation. It’s a really nasty wrinkle in the organization at the moment.
Teach the Defense the Position of Defense
Positioning, gap control, physicality, and awareness were all issues for the Rangers on defense last season.
While the team possessed puck skills and skating ability, they lacked the ability to defend, an ability that had allowed the Rangers to flourish in previous years.
Assignments were often missed. Additionally, players were seen as flying around their own end aimlessly. A defenseman would be at the point, his partner would be down low defending the crease against two forwards, while another opposing forward would have a wide-open shot from the face-off circle.
The Rangers, in other words, were a disaster defensively last season. If they want to have any hope of improving, Quinn must instill some sort of nastiness and awareness into the Rangers defense.
Fixing the defense is the primary concern of the Rangers if they want to compete in the future.
Stick to the Plan and be Aware of Your Limits
If the Rangers see any improvement next season, they should not jump the gun, get overly excited, and seek to compete. Unless they are at the top of the Metropolitan Division, or close to it, they should not worry about compiling assets or winning the Stanley Cup. The holes are far too deep.
If the Rangers jump out to a miraculous start, evaluate those games. How many victories will be because of a full team effort? How many of those victories will be Lundqvist facing 40 shots on goal a game and allowing only one goal? The Rangers have to be aware of how they win games before they jump to any conclusions. They cannot afford to abandon the plan now.
Keep the youth, and stick to the plan of the rebuild. Think of the rewards that sticking to the plan can provide.
Be patient, Ranger fans. The team has quite a bit of work to do. If Quinn would like to be successful as a head coach of the Rangers, he must carry them through the rebuilding stage.
He seems to be the man to do that. But, in time, we will see.