David Quinn acknowledged his first day running practices as the Rangers head coach was a long one. Three separate groups of players had their own practice as the Blueshirts got their official training camp going on Saturday, and that was a lot of time on ice for the new Rangers coach.
It’s not like he didn’t love it, though.
“I enjoyed every minute of it,’’ he said. “It felt like I was running hockey camp again.’’
Quinn, 52, has been an NHL assistant coach before but this is his first gig as a head coach at the NHL level, following five seasons coaching his alma mater, Boston University. He was hired in late May to replace Alain Vigneault, who had coached the team for five seasons before being fired on the final night of the season.
“Today was exciting,’’ he admitted. “I’d be lying if I said today wasn’t an exciting day for me. As a coach, you’re always excited to start a season, but as a first-time head coach in the National Hockey League, this is a pretty special day.’’
Much has been said about how the former college defenseman is going to run tougher practices and get the Rangers to play a stricter defensive system than that of his predecessor, Vigneault. But on his first day, Quinn wanted to stress conditioning and competing, he said.
“Everybody talks about systems and whatnot, but this game inevitably turns into a one-on-one battle,’’ he said. “And you’ve got to win one-on-one battles.’’
In his first practice, Quinn — who said of himself, “I coach enthusiastically,’’ — stopped the action several times, in order to instruct the players on how to do things the way he wanted. That is just how he is, he said.
“It’s the only way I know how to do it,’’ he said. “And there are times where, you know, a practice will lend itself to maybe stopping because you know there are certain drills that are tiring drills and they look tired and you may want to give them a blow, and so you stop it and use that opportunity to teach, a little bit.’’