Normally, on breakup day, after the media is done talking to the players, the Rangers would make their president and general manager available to speak, to talk about the things that went right and wrong in the season and give an advance look on what the priorities are for the offseason.
But as with so much else in this era of COVID-19, this breakup day was different. In this case, the president and general manager, Chris Drury, spoke last Thursday, a day after he was appointed to the positions to replace John Davidson and Jeff Gorton, who were fired the day before. And so the Rangers did not make Drury available after their players talked on Monday.
Coach David Quinn wasn’t made available, either. Quinn’s status as coach is the first item Drury needs to settle before he gets started on everything else he has to do in the offseason. Deciding whether Quinn, the coach since 2018, should return is something Drury needs to do long before he makes his first selection in the 2021 NHL Draft or signs his first free agent of the summer.
After the Rangers’ February 2018 letter announcing that the time had come for them to rebuild, they knew they were going to be integrating a lot of prospects and young players into the lineup during the next few years, and they wanted someone who could teach and develop those young players. After firing coach Alain Vigneault on the final night of the 2017-18 season, they hired Quinn, the coach at Boston University at the time.
But with the rebuild now looking as if it is just about over, the next step for the Rangers is to make the playoffs in 2022, and maybe go beyond that. And Drury now must determine whether Quinn should get a crack at leading the Rangers into this next phase.
Forward Ryan Strome was asked Monday if he had anything to say about Quinn’s status.
"I don’t really know anything, honestly,’’ he said. "You know, I’ve grown a lot under Quinnie. I came here three years ago and I look at the player I am now — it’s been a fun time. So we’ll see what happens.’’
Mika Zibanejad was asked to describe his relationship with Quinn.
"It’s been great, I think, over the last three years,’’ he said. "Obviously, in the beginning, you’re trying to figure each other out or whatever. And it’s been good. It’s been good with the whole coaching staff.’’
There is one more thing to consider in determining whether Drury should keep Quinn.
Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel talked Monday about "a disconnect’’ between the team and himself over the handling of his neck injury. Speaking at the Sabres’ breakup day, Eichel said his desire for next season is to stay healthy and play hockey, "wherever that might be.’’
The Rangers are at the top of the list of teams who are thought to be interested in trading for Eichel if the Sabres decide to move him. Eichel’s coach in his one year at Boston University? That would be Quinn.