The Rangers made it official Wednesday afternoon, announcing via Twitter that the club has named Boston University coach David Quinn as its 35th head coach, replacing Alain Vigneault, who coached the team for five years before being fired on the final day of the season.
“We are excited to announce that David will become the next head coach of the New York Rangers,’’ Rangers GM Jeff Gorton said in the press release announcing Quinn’s hiring. “In a coaching career that has spanned over two decades at the collegiate, pro, and international level, David has helped his teams achieve success while simultaneously teaching the game and helping his players develop on and off the ice. He is the ideal choice to bring our loyal and passionate fans the winning hockey they deserve.’’
Quinn is believed to have agreed to a five-year contract worth north of $12 million. The team will introduce him to the media and fans at an 11:30 a.m. news conference Thursday at the Garden.
Garden chairman James Dolan, who oversaw the Knicks’ hiring David Fizdale as their new coach three weeks ago, said in the statement that he was “pleased to welcome David Quinn to the New York Rangers.’’
“David brings a diverse and successful coaching resume that includes extensive work in developing young talent,’’ Dolan continued. “I am confident he is an excellent fit for our team, and know he will work tirelessly with Glen [Sather], Jeff and our entire organization to execute our plan to build the next Rangers Stanley Cup contending team.’’
The hiring of Quinn, 51, may suggest the Rangers believe it may take a while to get to contending status. The organization announced in a letter to the fans on Feb. 8 — with the team in the heat of a playoff race — that it intended to reshape the roster and begin a rebuilding process, focusing on developing a legitimate contender in the future. Before the Feb. 26 trade deadline, the team dealt away forwards Michael Grabner, Rick Nash, J.T. Miller and defensemen Nick Holden and Ryan McDonagh, the team’s captain, for a collection of young players, prospects and draft picks.
The team has three first-round picks in next month’s NHL Draft, as well as two seconds and two thirds. And Gorton had said at the news conference in which he addressed the firing of Vigneault that the team was looking for a “fresh’’ face as its new coach, one who would “have some thoughts on how, with the personnel we have, and the makeup of our team going forward, [he] . . . can help us move forward with a young group.’’
Vigneault, who guided the Rangers to a Stanley Cup Final in 2014, was seen as a coach who worked much better with established veterans than he did with young, developing players. Quinn, prior to coaching at BU, had also held various coaching positions within USA Hockey, including serving as head coach for the National Team Development Program, where he worked with high-school aged prospects. And just last month he was named by USA Hockey as the coach of the U.S. team for the World Junior Championships. Accepting this position means he will have to step down from that post.
Quinn, a Cranston, Rhode Island, native who played defense for BU in the mid-1980s, was a first-round pick, No. 13 overall, of the Minnesota North Stars in 1986 but was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder known as Christmas Disease that caused him to end his playing career in 1988. He made a brief comeback, signing with the Rangers’ Binghamton (AHL) farm team in 1992 and playing 19 games for them. He played one more season in the AHL before retiring for good and turning to coaching. He began as an assistant at the college level, worked with USA Hockey, and eventually took a job as the coach of the Lake Erie Monsters of the AHL. From there he became an assistant with the Monsters’ parent club, the Colorado Avalanche, and served in that capacity for a year before he got the BU job in 2013.
At BU, Quinn amassed a 105-68-21 record, won two Hockey East regular-season titles, one Beanpot Tournament title and had four NCAA Tournament appearances in his five seasons, including an appearance in the championship game in 2015, when the Terriers lost to Providence, 4-3.
Quinn has been adept at developing young NHL talent — three players who played for him at BU were selected in the first round of the NHL Draft in the last few years, including Long Beach native Charlie McAvoy, a defenseman who excelled with the Boston Bruins this season — he was taken 14th overall in the 2016 draft. The Sabres’ Jack Eichel was a Hobey Baker Award winner at BU as the top collegiate player and the No. 2 pick overall in 2015. Clayton Keller was taken 17th by Arizona in the 2016 draft. This year, forward Brady Tkachuk is likely to be a top-five pick. The Rangers have the ninth pick.