The Rangers’ search for a coach who would be comfortable grooming and developing a young, rebuilding roster looks to be at an end, with the team settling on Boston University coach David Quinn as the man to replace the fired Alain Vigneault, according to multiple sources.
The deal is not official, only because Rangers GM Jeff Gorton is in Denmark at the World Championships, a person informed on the negotiations told Newsday, but the Rangers have made it clear to Quinn that he is their choice, and Quinn reportedly has informed BU that he plans on accepting the job.
Quinn, 51, had been a top candidate early in the search that began when the Rangers fired Vigneault hours after the team closed the season April 7 with a 5-0 loss to the Flyers in Philadelphia.
Quinn, who had a 105-67-21 record at BU, had reportedly told friends weeks ago that he would be staying in Boston, but on Friday night, reports out of Canada indicated Quinn had become the Rangers’ target, and on Saturday, ESPN’s John Buccigross reported the Rangers had offered Quinn a five-year, $12 million contract, and that Quinn had informed BU that he would be leaving to take the Rangers job.
Quinn, who was a defenseman on the 1986 U.S. team that was the first to earn a medal at the World Junior Championships, had been named last month as the U.S. coach for this winter’s World Junior Championships. He will have to withdraw from that position once he accepts the Ranger job.
The choice of Quinn, who emerged from a pool of candidates that initially included University of Denver coach Jim Montgomery (hired by the Dallas Stars) and Toronto Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe, may signal the Rangers are committed to a full rebuild, after the team missed the playoffs this spring for only the second time since the 2004-05 NHL lockout.
Back in early February, with the team still within striking distance of a playoff spot, the Rangers announced in a letter to their fans it was their intention to retool the roster and look to the future. Before the trade deadline, the team shipped away forwards Michael Grabner, Rick Nash and J.T. Miller, and defensemen Nick Holden and captain Ryan McDonagh for a collection of young players, prospects and draft picks. They now hold three first round picks, two second round picks and two third rounders in next month’s NHL draft.
But there are some enticing free agents and trade possibilities available this summer that could speed up the rebuild process if the Rangers so chose.
Besides Islanders captain John Tavares, who is the biggest prize on the free agent market, Russian sniper Ilya Kovalchuk, who spent the last five seasons in the KHL, is returning to the NHL and is a free agent. He helped lead the Olympic Athletes from Russia to the Olympic Gold Medal this year and would have significant interest in signing with the Rangers.
Center Paul Stastny, currently playing in the Western Conference finals with Winnipeg, and defenseman John Carlson, currently in the Eastern Conference finals with Washington, are also big name free agents who would improve the Rangers significantly. Also, two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson is reportedly on the trading block in Ottawa.
Hiring Quinn, though — who in addition to coaching college hockey, previously spent time as head coach of the U.S. National Team Development Program — may suggest the Rangers intend to go young this season rather than bringing in a bunch of veteran free agents.
Quinn was drafted 13th overall by the Minnesota North Stars in 1984 out of Boston University but never played in the NHL. He was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder known as Christmas Disease that ended his playing career in 1988, though he briefly resumed his career a few years later, signing with the Rangers’ farm team in Binghamton in 1992 and playing parts of two seasons in the AHL before beginning his coaching career as an assistant in the college ranks.
His first pro job was as head coach of the AHL’s Lake Erie, a farm team of the Colorado Avalanche. From there he became an assistant coach with the Avalanche before he landed the job at BU in 2013.
Born: July 30, 1966, in Cranston, RI
College: Boston University
Drafted: 1984 by Minnesota North Stars (13th overall)
1991-93: Defenseman, Binghamton Rangers, Cleveland Lumberjacks
NHL assistant coach
2012-13 Colorado Avalance
2009-12 AHL Lake Erie Monsters
2013-18 Boston University