David Quinn
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

Entering his second season as head coach of the New York Rangers, David Quinn is remaining consistent with the message he established a year ago.

Dom Renna

Nobody likes a phony.

It’s a simple saying that applies to the many careers life has to present. It applies to our everyday lives that witness people presenting themselves as something they’re not. But it also applies to sports and is something the professional athlete can sniff the second they walk into a locker room.

In year two as New York Rangers head coach, David Quinn is already establishing he is not phony. He’s establishing how the David Quinn prototype New York fell in love with and hired a year ago was simply not for show. Instead, he’s remaining consistent with the message he set out at the beginning of last year, a message of growing as a team and individuals, while also working hard on a daily basis.

Look no further for proof than with his plans for rookies Kaapo Kakko, Vitali Kravtsov and Pavel Buchnevich.

Any other coach could have easily guaranteed Kakko, the second-overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, top-six minutes to start the year. There is a boatload of hype surrounding the 18-year-old Finnish product and that hype could have led time atop the Rangers lineup.

Not with Quinn, though, who made it clear at the opening of training camp. Kakko and fellow rookie Vitali Kravtsov are going to have to work hard and prove themselves in order to find a top-six role this year.

All of that has been consistent with the message Quinn established at his opening press conference a year ago. With him at the helm, nothing is going to be guaranteed and the only way to move up the lineup is through hard work on and off the ice. It’s part of the reason why he’s been so hard with the like of Pavel Buchnevich, Lias Andersson, Filip Chytil and Tony DeAngelo, and now we should start to see how the tough love will pay off.

With Buchnevich, Quinn was especially tough on him a year ago, moving him all around the lineup, occasionally scratching him here and there trying to get the best out of him. It took time, but he did get to him and is going to reward him for that effort to start the year playing him at the top of the Blueshirts lineup with Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin.

It could have been easy for Quinn to just stick another veteran like Chris Kreider on a line like that, but, instead, he realized the work Buchnevich has put it and is rewarding him for it.

This year, Quinn will be tasked with trying to get similar results with the likes of a Lias Andersson, who has yet to develop the way the Blueshirts hoped he would. It honestly might be one of the biggest goals from a player personnel perspective the Rangers have this year, aside from making the transition for Kakko and Kravtsov smooth.

With the way Quinn handled the Blueshirts younger players with upside last year, you have to believe he can get to a player like Andersson who does have the skill to be an everyday NHLer. It appears he’s going to be given every opportunity to prove himself thanks to Blueshirts lack of personnel at his position, and it will ultimately come down to how long can Quinn go with him in that spot.

Last year, he felt he couldn’t go more than a fourth-line role, and while it was frustrating to watch, the head coach has a plan to get the best out of these guys. It’s something you can only hope continues throughout his tenure.

The beauty of all of this though is that if anything change we know Quinn will not hesitate to move a player up or down in the lineup. He is not going to sit there and watch a player make the same mistake over and over again. He’ll try to help them correct it or if they can’t correct the issue he’ll adjust around it.

Quinn’s message is a simple one: give your all in every game, whether it’s preseason, regular season or postseason. It’s something we did not see from the Rangers down the stretch two years ago under Alain Vigneault when this rebuild began.

In just one year, Quinn brought that back and he looks to carry that message over along with the many other messages he established in year one in his second year behind the New York Rangers bench.

So far in year two, David Quinn is proving he’s not a phony.

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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.