The New York Rangers were looking for a new, fresh voice in the locker room that holds everyone accountable. They’ve got one in David Quinn.

Dom Renna

The main issue that surrounded Alain Vigneault and the New York Rangers the last few seasons was accountability. Now in 2018, Vigneault is no longer at the helm and his successor David Quinn is doing what his predecessor could not.

From the start of training camp, there was a different feeling around the organization. A sense that everyone was going to be rewarded when necessary, and a sense that everyone was open to discipline. A sense that not only were the Ranger kids open to criticism but, the longtime veterans will be subject to criticism also.

Well, it has been four games into the regular season, and we have already seen Quinn do just that. He limited the minutes of Kevin Hayes and Kevin Shattenkirk, while communicating to them why that was the case. He even decided to scratch Shattenkirk against the San Jose Sharks Thursday, a move Vigneault never would have considered.

It does not only stop with Shattenkirk. Neal Pionk also joined Shattenkirk in street clothes Thursday after his stellar audition in the 2017-18 season and solid preseason. Just like Shattenkirk though, Quinn explained why he made this decision to Pionk.

“When you do stuff like this, there has got to be clarity and there has got to be an explanation,” Quinn told Larry Brooks of the New York Post. “I’m not doing it to be the big, tough coach. It’s more like, if we’re going to have the success we’re capable of having, this is the bar and this is what’s expected. Holding people accountable is a coach’s No. 1 responsibility, but a lot goes into it. This is the way I’ve always done it,” Quinn said.

Look at that, Quinn is staying true to his word. He is holding everyone accountable and while that is great, he is not stopping there. He is also trying the fix one of the team’s biggest problems over the last three years.

We still have a little bit of a mentality whenever we have the puck that we want to make a heroic play or a great play,” Quinn said as he addressed the media following the team’s morning skate Thursday. “We need to do a better job at managing the puck, and when there is no play to be made, not throwing it blindly to the middle.” 

Already Quinn is trying to get his team to make a major adjustment, one they failed to do during the Vigneault era. An adjustment that has cost them just as much in 2018-19 as it did in the last five years.

This is not something new for Quinn, as he has been stressing this throughout the majority of the preseason. Clearly, he prefers the simple play compared to what this Blueshirt team had been used to in the past. Over the last five years, they were a get the puck and go type style offense. No more, as Quinn is encouraging and reminding them the safe play might best play.

Moving on from the long stretch pass is something that will take time. After all, it is in some of the young players’ nature to go for that type of play considering it is all they have ever known. But, Quinn is being persistent, something Vigneault might not have been with his team the last couple of seasons.

From a line combination standpoint, it took Quinn through two full games to make major changes in his lines. If this was still Vigneault’s show, lines would have been messed around with during the early stages of the second period against Buffalo.

But, what is even better from Quinn is, we are getting explanations for his decisions. Compare this to the stale answer from Vigneault where nine times out of 10 it was, I just thought it was the right thing to do. Now, there are logical and well thought out explanations like the one he gave Larry Brooks about breaking up the “KZB line.”

“Pavel (Buchnevicu) has always played the right side, where he is on his backhand a lot,” Quinn told Brooks. “He’s got really good skill. He’ll be on his forehand more on the left, so he might have the puck more and make more plays. It’s something for us to take a look at.”

It has only been four games, but Quinn is already showing he is nothing like his predecessor. That everything he told the media and the fan base from his opening press conference to now is truly what he is all about.

This is only the beginning, but Quinn is already making his mark on this Blueshirt team. One that was so desperately needed.

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Dominick is a graduate of Canisius College. He has covered the Rangers for the last seven seasons and the Yankees for the last four.