For the better part of three seasons, David Quinn was believed to be the coach who could lead the Rangers out of their initial rebuild and into NHL prominence.
An inability to get the best of the young talent and middling results ultimately led to Quinn’s dismissal from New York and a new regime for the Blueshirts.
That new regime change has done what Quinn’s group could not. The emergence of Kaapo Kakko, Alexis Lafreniere, and K’Andre Miller has helped the Rangers reach new heights in potential. At 3-1 to start the 2022-23 season, the second under Gerard Gallant, the Rangers have shown the offensive and defensive potential that had plagued Quinn’s former group from reaching.
But Quinn’s exile from the NHL was short-lived. Now as head coach of the San Jose Sharks, the former Ranger leader is tasked with improving another team that is going through a rebuild. At 0-5, the Sharks have the lowest point differential in hockey (-11).
It won’t get any easier for Quinn and the Sharks when they travel to Madison Square Garden to face the Rangers for the first time since Quinn was let go. It’ll also be a chance for Gallant to go head-to-head with his predecessor.
“When Quinn was here, the team had a lot of young mistakes. They progressed and progressed, and that’s what we talk about with any young player. They were 18, 19, and 20 years old when he (Quinn) had them in these places. So I think all the kids developed under him and they’ve gotten a lot better…Quinn’s done a nice job with them.” Gerard Gallant said.
Not all of the players Quinn coached were young. Rangers captain Jacob Trouba’s first year with the club came in Quinn’s second as head coach. New York finished the year 37-28-5 during the COVID-19 year where they were swept by Carolina in the qualifying round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Getting the Rangers through the difficult few seasons that were hampered by COVID was not easy on anyone. That’s recognized by Quinn’s former players.
“It’ll be good to see him. I’m glad to see him get behind the bench again for sure.” Jacob Trouba said after Wednesday’s practice. “That year was tough at times with everything we went through in the world. He means well, he cares about his players a lot. Everyone in the organization knows how good of a person he is.”
In total, Quinn posted a 96-87-25 record with New York. He signed a three-year, $2.5M contract with San Jose in the offseason.
When the Sharks and Rangers meet on Thursday night, it will be a chance for New York’s top young players to show their former coach the improvements they have made in their game. Those improvements continue even to this day and with a new coaching staff.
“I got them and they weren’t close to being a finished product but they were improving every year and that’s what you want,” Gallant said.