When he stepped to the podium inside Madison Square Garden Thursday to introduce former Boston University coach David Quinn as the Rangers’ new head coach, Blueshirts general manager Jeff Gorton said no matter how many people he and assistant GM Chris Drury talked to about the job, they just kept coming back to Quinn.
“As we went through this process, we met with a number of people, and talked to a number of hockey people and it just kept coming back to David as the guy we wanted as we moved forward with the Rangers,’’ Gorton said. “His resume speaks for itself. He’s been a lifetime hockey guy, lifetime coach, he’s had success at every level.’’
Gorton said Quinn’s ability to communicate set him apart.
“We talked to a number of people that were really good people, that you can see them being NHL head coaches,’’ Gorton said. “It’s just that, for me and for our group, talking to David, I think communication is a huge part with these players today. That’s probably the No. 1 thing that stuck out. The command of the Xs and Os and all that, I think that was there with most people that I talked to; the way that he wants to play, an uptempo game, a puck-possession game, I think that meshes with how I like to think.’’
Quinn said he wasn’t looking to leave BU, but given his age (51, though he called himself 52) the close relationship he had with Drury and Gorton, and the Rangers’ decision to go with a young team, the time was right for him to take the job.
“At the end the day, the more that Jeff and I and Chris talked, it just seemed like a natural fit,’’ Quinn said. “I’m 52 years old and at this point in my life, to be able to be the head coach of the New York Rangers was an opportunity I could not pass up. This is really the only situation I would have left Boston University for.’’
Quinn, who coached BU for five years and posted a 105-68-21 record, two regular season Hockey East titles and a NCAA championship game appearance in 2015, reportedly agreed to a five-year deal worth around $12 million to replace Alain Vigneault, who coached the Rangers for five years and guided them to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014 but was fired on the final day of this season.
Rangers defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk played at BU when Quinn was an assistant there under the legendary Jack Parker, and Shattenkirk also played 10 games for the Lake Erie Monsters of the AHL, when Quinn was the head coach there. He recalled that Quinn scratched him one game at Lake Erie.
“So, I can tell you right now, it doesn’t matter who you are, he holds you to a certain standard,’’ Shattenkirk said.
Shattenkirk echoed Quinn’s description of himself as “demanding,’’ but “fair,’’ and said his playing style is fast, while being defensively responsible.
“He lets you make plays, but you have to make the right plays,’’ Shattenkirk said. “He doesn’t want to take away your creativity at all, but there’s a time and place for trying to be too cute and trying to make the right play at the right time in the game. He’s a defenseman at heart, and he harps on team defense; that’s an area that, for me, he did so much for me in college, to focus on my individual skills and from a team standpoint, making sure the team was sound structurally and in good position and working hard to defend.’’
Gorton said he interviewed between 5 and 10 serious candidates for the job, some in person, others on the phone. Assistant coach Lindy Ruff, he said, was a candidate early on, but Gorton decided if he stayed on the coaching staff it would be as an assistant. Quinn and Ruff will talk and see if Ruff staying on is something that works for both men.
Other than that, Gorton said they will begin putting a coaching staff together this week, though goaltending coach Benoit Allaire remains in place from the previous regime.
Notes & quotes: Shattenkirk, whose season ended with knee surgery, said he is on schedule with his rehab, will begin skating in about a month and will be fully ready to go when training camp starts in September.